Ontario Junior Hockey League resident writer Ron Valentine is profiling the 2023-24 team captains across The OJ. (Photo by Cameron Ernst / OJHL Images)
BY RON VALENTINE
When captain Will Whelton was traded to the Markham Royals – he now plays for the Lindsay Muskies – in early December, the Wellingon Dukes appointed another defenceman, Dimitri-Alexander Tzaferis, 20, as their new on-ice leader.
Dimitri was born in Montreal and played for John Rennie high school where he wore the ‘C’. After also captaining the Choate Rosemary (prep school) Wild Boars, out of Wallingford, Connecticut, he played last season for the Drayton Valley Thunder in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
He joined the Dukes this season, becoming their leading point-getting blueliner and representing Wellington on Team East at the OJHL All-Star celebration in Collingwood this month.
In his own words…
“It was a great experience playing prep school hockey in the U.S. I got a really good education, had great classmates and made friends with people of all sorts from Europe and Canada. Besides hockey there were a lot of sports played and it was really cool to meet people and to make so many friends. The calibre of hockey was excellent. Many players from that league have gone on to the NHL and many have received college scholarships.
“Playing my first year of junior in Alberta was also a unique experience for me but unfortunately my season was cut short after playing a dozen games as I broke my wrist and basically spent the rest of the season in recovery mode. Before the start of this season I got a call from Kent Lewis, who had just been appointed as head coach of the Dukes, and I jumped at the opportunity to play in Wellington.”
“I am really a family-oriented person and I have to thank those close to me for their support every step of the way. When we started the season we had just one returning player and though it might have seemed like a daunting road. The additions we made have all been great contributors and we have become a team in the real sense of the word. Coach Kent has created what I think is a unique environment and we have all bonded on and off the ice. We plan to be the last team standing!”
“I look at myself as a physical, two-way defenceman who can win battles in the D-zone. Skating is one of my stronger points and it allows me to contribute to the offence. There is always room for improvement, you can never stop growing your game and coach Kent and his staff have worked with me at calming down my game and getting more settled with the puck. All of us get a lot of help from our physio and gym support staff and this makes sure that we are in the best shape we can be in.”
“I was assistant captain prior to Will’s move so I was proud to be able to wear the C. I have two very capable assistant captains in Connor Hunt, who was the sole carryover (from last season). He decided to stick with the Dukes. He is very respected and deservedly so and he is a top player in all of the zones. Ge can be relied upon in all situations. Cory Jewiit wears the other A. He got off to a very fast start and has kept it going all season. He is mature beyond his age; we call him ‘the father of the team. He never stops working and he has the scoring touch.”
“Though we take pride in everyone contributing in the dressing room, one player we can rely on to speak out and shake things up is Colin Smith. He’s someone who notably steps up to bring energy in the room which can be translated onto the ice.”
“It’s a tribute to coach Kent’s scouting and management that we only added two players at the deadline in blueliner Josh Rumolo (former co-captain of the North York Rangers) and Brad Barker, from (the Toronto Patriots), who brings a physical presence to the club.”
“I preach love and respect in the locker room and do my best to be a leader on and off the ice. Though it’s often a cliche, it’s really a family here in Wellington and we truly believe we can still be playing hockey in May.”
Dmitri is looking for an NCAA scholarship and with his enthusiasm, strong values and excellent hockey ability an announcement may not be long coming.
Follow Ron Valentine on X @ronandlynda