Hunting Goals in Fort Erie

Hunter Coley has come a long way in a short period of time with the Fort Erie Meteors.

The 17-year-old forward was an associated player with the team the last two seasons and has quickly made his mark in his first year in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.

The Grade 12 student at Saint Michael Catholic High School is fourth on the team in scoring with 17 goals and 32 points in 34 games after spending last season with the Southern Admirals U18 AAA squad.

“We’ve had Hunter on our ice for over two years. Just a kid who always finds a way to score goals, which is always a nice thing,” Meteors general manager/coach Nik Passero said. “He was coached by (former Meteor) Marcus Quinlin and he really taught him the right way to play the game. He defends hard, he wants to win.”

Passero also loves Coley’s passion.

“He really bleeds the colours here. He loves being a Meteor and always has a smile on his face. To have 18 goals as a 17-year-old kid and not having a rookie season in this league, is very impressive.”

Coley beamed with pride when asked about playing for the Mets.

“This has been a blast. I APed with them the last two years and it’s been great. To actually be on the team has been surreal,” he said. “The coaching staff here has been unbelievably good and playing with players as good as the ones on our team has helped me grow as a person and player.”

Coley, Meteors leading scorer Liam Beamish, Ben Radley of the Hamilton Kilty B’s and Gabe Trozzo of the Port Colborne Sailors have been named to the GOJHL U18 squad which will participate this weekend at the 2024 MacPherson Tournament at St. Andrews College in Aurora.

Meteors defenceman Andrew MacNiel was also named to the team but has been called up by the Kitchener Rangers and won’t be available to participate.

MacNeil, a fourth-round selection of the Rangers in the 2023 OHL draft, is having an outstanding rookie campaign for the Meteors.

“From the minute he stepped on the ice he’s wowed us,” Passero said. “He’s had some ups and downs in his game but there’s no one who works harder or cares more or is more committed to be at the next level and beyond. His goal is to be in the NHL and he takes it very seriously. I’m very proud of the player he is and as a person he is 10/10.”

Beamish, a 16-year-old rookie who was a draft pick of the Sarnia Sting, leads the Mets with 21 goals and 21 assists and recently committed to Penn State.

Trozzo, a 16-year-old defenceman, has 18 points in 33 games for the Sailors while Radley, a 16-year rearguard who has also played a pair of games for the Brantford Bulldogs.

The tournament also features Northwood School, Brunswick School, Bishop Kearney School, Rink Academy, Victory Honda and Culver Academy.

Passero, who has been named an assistant coach on the staff, was also part of last year’s GOJHL staff.

“Last year we had no pressure and we went in and won the tournament. This year there’s probably a little more pressure because we’re defending champs. Our staff takes it very seriously and so do the players,” Passero said.  “All the top prep schools around are there and last year almost every NHL team was there, lots of schools and OHL teams, so it’s really good for the kids.”

Coley can’t wait to get started.

“It’s really an honour playing on a team that’s really good. It’s honourable and exciting to be able to play at a level I’m going to be playing at the MacPherson Tournament,” he said. 

The squad will practice together Thursday in preparation for their first game Friday morning versus Bishop Kearney School.

“We’ve practised together as a group two or three times and even practice brought up guy’s games,” Passero said. “It’s been good. It’s a great experience to see what other teams do and to work with different people on different staffs.”

The Meteors, who are in Hamilton Thursday and home to Port Colborne Saturday, are locked in a three-way battle for first with Caledonia and St. Catharines. The Corvairs lead the standings with 55 points followed by the Meteors with 53 and the Falcons with 52.

“Lots of scoreboard watching,” Passero said. “We battle in here every day to get better. Last year didn’t have a chance at first where every point means something and adds a little stress and anxiety but I think our group are such good kids and they know what’s at stake. There’s a great buzz in the entire town, especially after the deadline. People want to come watch us play and want to see us win.”

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