LThe 67's didn't want to show their colors too much before the OHL Draft last weekend for fear of losing their target. A lottery gave them the 12th pick in the first round. At this rank, two players stood out from the crowd in their eyes. Two local products: Owen Outwater and Christopher Barlas.
In addition to being among the best talent in the province, they both live in the Orleans area of Ottawa. According to club data, it's the most popular neighborhood among fans flocking to TD Place. Even better. The two attackers are bilingual, trilingual in the case of Barlas, whose roots are Greek. All the conditions were met so that one of the two could eventually become the face of the franchise.
The Barlas family's wish was granted.
“I was really hoping to end up in the 67's. I love my family. I wanted to stay at home. It's amazing that my ideal scenario happened. I did not expect to receive my sweater so soon! They had had time to sew my name on the back of the sweater. It gave me an indescribable feeling knowing that I was their target. I got a ton of messages from my friends telling me they would attend all of my games in Ottawa, ”said the center who wore the Navan U18 Grads colors this season.
Obviously, Barlas has always been a supporter of the 67's. As a kid, he admired Travis Konecny, a player he mirrors his playstyle on. As a teenager, he experienced the hype of the 2019 playoffs when the 67's reached the OHL final. They were unfortunately beaten in six games by Nick Suzuki and the Guelph Storm.
In Orleans, Christopher Barlas was able to develop his skills and even take them to the next level by rubbing shoulders with several big names from the last OHL draft. He also formed a devastating trio with Owen Outwater and Justin Cloutier (first round pick of the Sault Ste-Marie Greyhounds) for eight seasons with the Gloucester Rangers and the Ottawa 67's junior. Matt Buckley, selected in the second round by the Oshawa Generals, was also his teammate. Like Outwater, Buckley did his elementary school in French at the Étoile de l'Est.
“By hanging out with players of this caliber of play, everyone was able to progress quickly. Justin Cloutier is one of my best friends. We had great chemistry. Now, I will be able to continue my development with the 67's, an organization recognized throughout the Canadian League for extracting the maximum skills from its players. "
An intelligent, combative and extremely dynamic player in both directions of the ice, Barlas fits perfectly into the identity sought by the 67's. His name would quickly become known in Ottawa. As much Logan Couture in 2005? He has all the tools to believe it.
Books as important as hockey sticks
When he jumps on an ice rink, the talent of Christopher Barlas is indisputable.
Anyone who has watched his games for the past eight years with the Gloucester Rangers, Ottawa Junior 67's or the Navan Grads has seen it quite easily. What the Ottawa 67's learned from taking an interest in him was that he performed just as well on the school benches.
Enrolled in the prestigious private college of Ashbury in the Rockliffe district, his goal has always been to maintain an average above 85%.
“I try to apply the same work ethic in hockey as I do in school. My parents always insisted on the importance of studies. Hockey is good, but I want to make sure I have a backup plan because you never know what can happen. I always had good grades in school just like my older brother who just graduated from the University of Ottawa. My sister also attends this university in the field of business. "
Her father, George, was born in Athens, Greece. Her mother, Voula, is a native of Montreal, but she also has Greek roots. The father works in the health sector. He gets by in French. The mother, who works in finance, is perfectly bilingual. As parents, they wanted their children to learn French. They therefore attended Le Prélude primary school in Orléans before eventually meeting up at Ashbury College.
“I did my first eight years of school in French. I liked that. My parents grew up in a French-speaking environment in Montreal. I also speak Greek. Before the pandemic, we used to spend our summer vacation in Greece. At school, I would say I have a preference for math. "
In summary, Christopher Barlas is one of the best hockey players in the province in his age group. At 16, he already has the physique for the job (5'11 '' and 180 pounds). He is native to the region, speaks both official languages of the country in addition to excelling in the classroom.
Could the 67's really hope for better from their first selection of 2021? The 2021-22 season cannot come soon enough!