Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Kaleb Dietsch spent last weekend celebrating a hockey dream come true – being drafted to the Ontario Hockey League.
This weekend, he’ll be in the nation’s capital with other rookies chosen by the Ottawa 67’s in the junior draft.
Dietsch, 16, and the other players chosen by one of the league’s most-respected franchises will be touring the team’s facilities, meeting some of the staff and spending some time on the ice.
The talented 6-foot-2 defenceman, who began his hockey career with the Niagara-on-the-Lake Minor Hockey Association, had high hopes of being chosen by one of Ontario’s major junior teams.
He was picked 46th overall, early in the third round of the Priority Selection draft, solidifying his credentials as one of the premier players in his age group.
ONLINE STORY ARCHIVE
- See the story about Dietsch’s participation in the OHL combine here.
- Read the full profile of Kaleb Dietsch, originally published April 13, 2023.
Dietsch and his family were elated at achieving a goal that many elite young players aspire to.
The days immediately afterward were “pretty surreal” as it all started to sink in, he said in an interview Sunday.
The junior draft is conducted online and live streamed – but there apparently was a glitch when Ottawa was announcing its third-round pick.
Sitting at home with his mom Natasha, dad Paul and older brother Liam, there was a brief lag in the web broadcast on their TV and Dietsch didn’t know he’d been drafted.
“I got an Instagram notification first. And it said, ‘The Ottawa 67’s want to follow you. They want to become friends.’ ”
So, he realized, “Oh wow, it must be now. I looked at the board and it said ‘Ottawa selecting now.’ ”
Then he got a call from a team official telling him they were choosing him at that moment. And finally, he saw his name on the draft board so the celebrating could begin.
Going into the draft, held Friday night and Saturday, while he had spoken to 17 of the 20 OHL teams, he had no idea who might pick him.
But Ottawa was the first team that interviewed him a while back and both Dietsch and his family were impressed.
“They did a really excellent Zoom presentation, talking about their facilities, their excellent education side and all the things they offer their players, including what high school he’d attend if he ends up cracking the lineup,” said dad Paul.
“We were impressed right away,” he added. “It really set the bar high and we were thrilled that it was Ottawa who chose him. It’s obviously a great organization.”
His mom Natasha said she’s really excited for her youngest to head off to Ottawa if he makes the team.
“He’s worked really hard for it,” she said.
The whole family has helped him along the way and if he’s playing for the 67’s next season, she said they’ll be attending a lot of the team’s games.
Paul and his brother Matt co-own the popular Sand Trap Pub & Grill on Mary Street and since the draft and The Lake Report’s story on it was posted last Friday night, people have been rallying to offer congratulations.
“Everyone that sees me there is congratulating us, so it’s a nice community feeling. They’re standing behind him” and celebrating his success.
The online story literally got thousands of likes, comments and views as people celebrated Dietsch’s accomplishment.
He’s also happy that six other members of his U16 Southern Tier Admirals AAA team were drafted – including three other defencemen.
That’s a reflection of the talent on the Admirals, who were Ontario Minor Hockey Association finalists in the U16 AAA division this season.
They competed in the prestigious OHL Cup showcase in late March and Dietsch was one of just 24 defencemen invited to the OHL combine evaluation camp in Oshawa the weekend before the draft.
The next step is doing his best to prepare for the tryouts, continue to work on his game and improve his skills. His goal is to make the team.
“The opportunity has presented itself, now it’s time to work hard,” said Paul, adding his son needs no external motivation.
“As soon as he got drafted, the next morning he was working out at our home gym here and saying, ‘Well, the hard work’s gonna get harder now. So I gotta get going here.’ ”