Sports Hockey

Della Rovere anxious to return

By Raymond Bowe, Barrie Examiner

Winning gold at the world juniors was an emotional high Stefan Della Rovere will never forget, but the Colts captain will descend that mountain and rejoin his Barrie teammates tomorrow.

After everything they went through -- including thrilling victories against the United States and Russia -- Della Rovere said it was tough to leave his Team Canada mates.

But, after missing nine games with the Barrie Colts, the gritty power forward will have to get back into the groove with his OHL club. Not that he hasn't been in touch with his fellow Colts.

"Those boys were really cheering me on (throughout the world juniors)," Della Rovere said yesterday from his parents' home in Maple.

Barrie sits in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, and Colts head coach Marty Williamson hopes his team will rally around Della Rovere's success.

"It's fantastic. We're so proud of him, the whole team," Williamson said yesterday. "We also saw this with Bryan Little. (Della Rovere) comes back with a great experience and great wisdom, just like he would attending a pro camp."

Little, who's now lighting the lamp with the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL, won gold at the 2007 world junior tournament in Sweden.

A special presentation for Della Rovere and his family will take place at centre ice prior to Saturday night's game against the Brampton Battalion.

Colts defenceman Ryan O'Connor is also coming off a gold-medal experience after winning the World Under- 17 Challenge in British Columbia with Team Ontario last weekend.

The Hamilton native, who turns 17 next Monday, had five assists in six games at the tournament, hosted in the Vancouver Island community of Port Alberni. With the Colts, O'Connor has six goals -- all on the power play -- and 23 points in 33 games.

Williamson said success at the under- 17 tournament often leads to a coveted roster spot on Team Canada.

"That really is the first step towards the world juniors," Williamson said.

Della Rovere, a Washington Capitals draft pick, is expected to be in the lineup for tomorrow night's road game against the Niagara IceDogs, which includes Team Canada defenceman Alex Pietrangelo.

The Colts follow up that game with a weekend home-and-home series versus Brampton and another Team Canada player, Cody Hodgson.

Della Rovere said he hopes Pietrangelo is still with Niagara for tomorrow's game. The swift-skating defender is rumoured to be on the move as Friday's trade deadline approaches.

"But he would help whatever team he goes to," Della Rovere said.

Despite missing some OHL action, Hodgson remains one of the league's leading scorers with 20 goals and 42 points in 23 games.

But Della Rovere, who's producing at a point-a-game clip, is no slouch when it comes to physical play, with 93 penalty minutes in 29 games. He plans on getting in Hodgson's kitchen.

"Hodgson is just such a great leader," he said. "It's not going to be an easy task (playing against him), because he's coming off such a high, but, hopefully, I can get into his head a little bit."

Reports suggest Oshawa Generals star and world junior tournament MVP John Tavares -- expected to go No. 1 in this summer's NHL Entry Draft -- could be heading to either the London Knights or Windsor Spitfires before the deadline.

But Barrie fans shouldn't necessarily expect a blockbuster trade this week, the coach says.

"There is a lot of talk with a lot of teams, but everything is moving slowly with everyone waiting for the Tavares trade," Williamson said. "(Trade talk) gets a little frantic in the final days, but a lot of people are just kicking tires."

That said, Williamson added nothing is imminent on the trade front for the Barrie Colts.

"We're pretty happy with where we are," he said.

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