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Colts defenceman heading to Sweden to prepare for OHL's February start

Connor Punnett says he wants to focus on skill development overseas by getting into some meaningful games before the OHL season starts
2020-03-22 Colts Spits RB 12
Barrie Colts defenceman Connor Punnett is shown during OHL action against the Windsor Spitfires at Sadlon Arena on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

Former North Bay Trapper and current Barrie Colts defenceman Connor Punnett is heading overseas to Sweden to play for Karlstrona HK U20 as he tries to prepare for the upcoming Ontario Hockey League season. 

Punnett, who was drafted 18th overall by the Saginaw Spirit in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, netted two goals along with four assists in 51 games split between the Spirit and the Colts last season in his rookie campaign in the Ontario Hockey League prior to the COVID-19 stoppage. 

Punnett says the news of the OHL season starting up in early February made his decision to go much easier. 

"We were looking at this for a while now just waiting to see what was going to happen with the OHL season and we just came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to head over there and get some games in before the season and work on my development a bit more," said Punnett, a Powassan product.  

"That way I am prepared to come back and play in one of the best junior leagues in the world when I come back for the season in Barrie at the end of January," he added. 

The big defenceman says he's been working hard in the gym in North Bay and Barrie trying to get stronger and has been skating this summer with a North Bay group of major- and junior-aged players as his way to get ready for the upcoming season.  

"Having to prepare yourself mentally for a January start, you know if we start in February then it is 11 months since we played a game right, we had our season cancelled in mid-March, so it has been a while so I'm excited about that and I think they are going to have everything in place for us to have a good season," he said.   

Punnett says his agent Ryan Barnes, who is a former Barrie Colts forward who works for Quartex agency, worked with the Colts and their Swedish player development advisor Randy Edmonds from North Bay as they co-ordinated the release and the loan of Punnett to Karlstrona HK U20. 

Punnett was heading out on Friday and will be rooming with Kocha Delic, the Sudbury Wolves 2020 second-round selection. Delic will join the Karlstrona U18 team.   

"Now I can just focus on playing now," said Punnett, crediting all the efforts made to help co-ordinate the move. 

"I just want to focus on my skill development and getting some time to play and be able to just get better and really just get into some games before the season starts," he added. "It is going to be a short season so it is going to be a quick start to finish with a couple games a week so it is going to be a busy schedule."

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Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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