Whalers grab Meurs at 13

Ripley teen a first round pick

Garrett Meurs is headed for Plymouth.

The Ripley teenager was a first round pick, 13th overall, in Saturday’s Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

“Not bad,” laughed Meurs early Saturday afternoon. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Ripley’s Garret Meurs was selected by the Plymouth Whalers Saturday morning in the OHL Priority Selection. (Josh Howald photo)

Meurs, who played for the Huron-Perth AAA Lakers as well as the Kincardine District Secondary School hockey team this past season, had been courted by several OHL teams, but didn’t know where he would end up until Saturday’s live internet draft.

“We had friends and family over, sitting in front of the computer,” said Meurs. “(Plymouth) called and let me know if I was still available at 13 they were going to take me. They called right after they made the pick.”

“We had been targeting him for a long time,” said Whalers General Manager Peter Velucci Saturday afternoon. “We weren’t sure he was going to be available, and we certainly felt he was the most skilled player available.”

 “Apparently he plays at very high speed, and that is critical to making the jump to the next level,” said Velucci, adding that Meurs will be given the opportunity to step into the Whalers line-up next season.

The Whalers finished fourth in the OHL’s Western Conference this season with a 37-26-9-0 record. They beat the Sarnia Sting in five games in the opening round of the playoffs, but were beaten in six games by the Windsor Spitfires.

Meurs, who will go to Ottawa for the final Team Ontario Under-17 camp try-outs next month, will attend a Whalers orientation camp in two weeks.

The shifty forward racked up 52 goals and 43 assists for 95 points in 67 games with the Lakers this season. He has been on the OHL Central Scouting radar since early this season.

Velucci said that the May 16 camp will consist of a tour of Plymouth, some orientation sessions on the Whalers education program, a few on-ice sessions and details of a summer conditioning and weight training program.

“At 160 pounds, it is imperative that he puts on a few pounds. I would say the next three or four months are critical for him, but we expect him to walk on and contribute immediately,” said Velucci. “We’ve heard nothing but good things about his ability and his character. I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”

Meurs, a KDSS student, is the highest draft pick to come out of this area since the Belleville Bulls selected Travis Riggin with the fourth overall pick in 1993.