Sunday September 10th, 2017 the North York Rangers opened their season against division rival Mississauga Chargers. It also marked 17-year-old defencemen Harrison Rees’ Junior A hockey debut. Right from puck drop, the rookie did not look out of place. He even picked up his first career OJHL point in the second period.
The Rangers did go on to win 4-1, but it signified only the beginning for Rees.
Fast forward 21 months later, the Mississauga, Ont., native tripled his point total from 14 to 44, was on the Rangers top pairing, helped the team set franchise records and was named to the OJHL Second All-Star team. To add to already impressive season, he was invited to the San Jose Sharks Development Camp.
“My experience at San Jose’s Development camp was absolutely outstanding,” Rees explained. The development staff and all-around staff in the San Jose organization was amazing and I learned so much from being there and getting feed back on how to be better each day.”
Not many individuals, especially Junior A players get a chance to learn and take part in an NHL activities. The 6’2 defencemen made sure to absorb a ton of information.
“The biggest lessons I learned from camp was that every time I’m on the ice or off the ice, I need to be extremely detailed and work on the littlest things,” he explained. “It ends up making a big difference and set players apart.”
Rangers assistant coach Sean Teakle spends numerous hours with North York’s d-core. He witnessed Rees’ hockey sense, compete level and ability to make plays on a daily basis. There was one major difference from his rookie season to this past one.
“Besides getting stronger and fast the biggest difference was his confidence level. He realized how good he is and his potential and played up to it,” Teakle stated.
Rees knows he wouldn’t be in the position he’s currently in without the help of North York.
“The Rangers organization has helped me tremendously, weather it be Geoff Schomogyi (Head Coach), or Coach Sean. They pushed me to my limits sometimes and I learned who I am as a player,” the 19-year-old said. “All the coaching staff and Claude Desjardins (General Manager) made it very easy to be successful and build a great culture which I am blessed to of been a part of.”
The Rangers experienced back-to-back historic seasons during Rees’ tenure. They set franchise records for wins in a season, won their division last season and were on win away from the OJHL final. The now former Ranger will never forget the ride with the NYR family.
“To play and be a member of the North York Rangers organization meant a lot to me. There were no days off, the complete level was high and I felt like nothing came easy and as a team we earned everything we got.”
Rees begins a new chapter this fall joining the University of Connecticut. He earned a hockey scholarship with the Huskies prior to the 2017 season. He can’t wait for the next stage to begin on and off the ice.
“The thing I am looking forward to at UConn is playing for a great coaching staff as well as competing each game against the top schools in the country.
The former Erie Otter draft pick made a name for himself this past season. Teakle believes if the defenceman continues to develop properly, the sky is the limit.
“I think he will do well at UConn. It may take time but he will have a great NCAA career,” he explained. I truly believe if he keeps his development going he can be a professional hockey player.”
(Feature Photo: Ed McPherson/OJHL Images)