Thursday, July 18, 2024

‘Dreams come true’: Braeside’s Dean Letourneau drafted into NHL

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The Ottawa Valley has its newest NHL hero.

It was a dream night for Braeside, Ont.’s Dean Letourneau who was selected 25th overall by the Boston Bruins in last night’s NHL Draft.

It was a long wait for the crowd that gathered at the watch party at the John A. Gillies Recreation Centre in Braeside on Friday. Letourneau was selected near the end of the first round, over three hours after the draft began.

It was an eruption of applause when Letourneau’s name was called.

“Oh, I just, I can’t even talk,” said Braeside councillor Scott Brum, who organized the watch party.

“Dreams of that big day, becoming a superstar in the NHL; well dreams come true because Dean Letourneau just did it from here in Braeside, Ontario,” said McNab/Braeside deputy mayor Lori Hoddinott.

Speaking previously with CTV News, Letourneau said he grew up being a Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins fan. Now he’ll be waiting for the day he can wear the black and gold of Boston.

“I think he’s a project for the Bruins, but I hope he does well,” said Braeside resident Bartly Roberts, who attended the watch party.

“You know, it will be good for Braeside, and it’ll be good for hockey with him.”

Hoddinott says the milestone for Letourneau also represents a major moment for the small community.

“It’s big for the adults, but it’s also for the kids to see that they could start out in a little town on an outdoor rink, and learn to skate,” said Hoddinott.

Before leaving for St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ont. two years ago, Letourneau spent his entire hockey journey in the Ottawa Valley.

“It was awesome,” he told CTV News. “I got to play close to home, I got to be at home my whole life and play in my community.”

“It can be a challenge for kids playing in the valley,” said Letourneau’s father Jeff.

“Because the Upper Ottawa Valley Aces practiced in Beachburg or Westmeath or Pembroke, but rarely practiced in Arnprior.”

Letourneau’s draft location is a great coincidence given the 18-year-old has already committed to playing hockey at Boston College next season.

Letourneau left Las Vegas – where the NHL draft was taking place – early Saturday morning to fly to Boston for the Bruins’ developmental camp.

But he says if everything aligns during this offseason, it would be a dream to step onto the NHL ice right away next year.

“Next year, I’m going to go play for Boston College,” said Letourneau.

 ‘I think that would be good for me to go there for at least one or two, maybe three years to develop before I can step into the NHL and be an impact player,” he added.

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