Numerous clichés can be tied to players during their draft year, but one in particular rings truer for Erie Otters’ forward Dane Fox.
Fox experienced the old cliché, ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ this year after being traded from the OHL’s first place London Knights to the cellar dweller Otters midway through the season.
Fox was originally disappointed in the Knights’ move, but quickly found out the move turned into a great opportunity for the draft eligible forward.
“At first I was completely surprised when I was told I was traded, but I think it helped me in the long run,” Fox said. “London had a bunch of top line guys and I was the third line grinder, but down in Erie was on the first line and first power play unit.”
Fox had an impressive third season in the OHL, nearly doubling his point total from his sophomore campaign. The Thamesville, ON. product finished the year with 54 points in 62 games and averaged the most points-per-game among Otter players to end the season on the roster.
Fox attributes the second half of the season success to one big thing – confidence.
“When I got to Erie, I wasn’t getting yelled at for making little mistakes and I was just going out and playing my game,” he said. “Coach (Robbie) Ftorek and (general manager) Sherry Bassin talked a lot with me and really helped my confidence throughout the year.”
Fox went on a tear after the trade, recording 11 points in his first 10 games in an Otter jersey. Fox, who was originally snubbed from the CHL Top Prospects Game, was later added to Team Cherry the day after recording his first OHL hat trick – his ninth game with Erie.
He played well in game and despite the high-pressure opportunity, Fox embraced the event.
“It was an unbelievable experience and I was overwhelmed with the opportunity I was given,” he said, recording two penalty minutes during the game. “It was a great experience and the game was something I’ll never forget.”
The Otters’ season ended much earlier than Fox had been used to in London after the team recorded just 10 wins and missed the playoffs. Fox took a couple weeks off after the season, but began training in early April for NHL Combine with hockey fitness guru Gary Roberts.
All while training with Roberts back in Canada, Fox followed his former teammates as they made a run for the Memorial Cup. Despite thoughts that he could have been on the London team had it not been for the trade, he managed to watch every game of the tournament.
“The team was nothing but good to me and I was rooting for them,” Fox said. “I actually Skyped with my old roommate Colin Martin during the tournament and a bunch of the guys came in his hotel room and we talked for a bit so it was nice to catch up with those guys and to wish them luck with the rest of the tournament.”
While Fox missed out on playing out the entire storybook season with the Knights, his current team may not be too far away from duplicating the success that Fox watched during the OHL playoffs and Memorial Cup. With the addition of first overall OHL Priority Selection pick Connor McDavid and the team’s top players in Stephen Harper, Adam Pelech returning, the team could make some noise in the OHL’s Western Conference next season.
The thought has Fox excited.
“I can’t wait for next season, I just want the season to start right now actually,” he said.
While the start of the season is still four months away, he’ll continue to get better this offseason with hard work, the attribute he states makes him the hockey player he is today.
“When you work hard good things happen and that’s what my dad has told me my whole life,” said Fox, who grew up on the family’s farm. “I never take a shift off and always work hard off the ice because you never know what will happen with effort.”
Fox’s efforts will pay off in the future as well as later this month with 30 teams eager to acquire the power forward’s services.