Steelheads’ Misa Reflects On Playing In Capital City Challenge

After being drafted ninth overall by the Mississauga Steelheads in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection, it has been a strong start for the 16-year old center, playing in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and finding his role on the team. He currently has two goals and nine points through his first 14 games, and his impressive play got him on Hockey Canada’s radar, so he was invited to the Capital City Challenge to play for Team Canada White. 

Like with the Steelheads, he has solidified a role for himself in a short time as the team’s third-line center, primarily playing with Kalan Lind, who plays with the Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League (WHL). Their left-winger slot has rotated throughout the games, but those two are slowly building the chemistry as the tournament progresses.

Performing In A Third-Line Role

Both Misa and Lind have one point each through three games in the preliminary round, with the two of them playing a role on Team Canada White’s second power-play unit. They have not been heavily relied upon, as players such as Matthew Soto and Chris Barlas have played the most minutes against the top-line competition, so they’re getting time against lower-quality competition.

Luke Misa Team Canada
Luke Misa, Team Canada (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

Misa is strong at finding passing lanes at any area of the offensive zone, especially at creating cross-seam passes to a player on the other side of the ice and setting up a scoring chance. However, he’s struggled with his shooting in the OHL and during this tournament, as he is often focused on passing instead of shooting when necessary. This can be a common issue among junior players, but he will want to grow in that area as he continues to play up to the 2023 NHL Draft, where he will be a first-year eligible player to be selected.

He has enjoyed the experience so far and has already met some lifelong friends in just a short period. “It’s been great being able to play with my teammates and have a great start to my OHL season. Playing for Team Canada is an honour, and it’s been a great experience so far.” Misa said, “There have been a lot of great events, and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of new friends and teammates.”

Related: Capital City Challenge Preliminary Wrap Up: Team White & Team Black

He has also faced adversity so far in the three games he played, as in the final seconds of Team Canada White’s preliminary match against Team Canada Red, he whiffed on a shot from the slot that could have tied the game. The puck ended up going the other way, and Easton Cowan, who plays for the London Knights in the OHL, scored with five seconds remaining to cement the victory for Team Canada Red.

Getting Advice From Steelheads Leadership Group

Back in Mississauga, Misa has been adjusting to playing from with the Oakville Rangers in the South Central Tripple AAA league to the Steelheads over 18 months. Considering that he could not play in any games last year, it has been a significant challenge for him and many players in major junior leagues. Shane Wright, who plays for the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL, and is the projected first-overall selection in the 2022 NHL Draft, is struggling to meet the ridiculously high expectations. He went from scoring 40 goals as a 16-year-old to having his next season shut down, and he’s had to get himself back up to pace. Misa has adjusted surprisingly well in that regard and has been noticeable immediately with the Steelheads.

James Hardie Mississauga Steelheads
James Hardie, Mississauga Steelheads (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

After getting the chance to play for his country, Misa enlisted the help of the Steelheads veteran group in captain Ethan Del Mastro and assistant captain James Hardie. Both have experience playing in the U17 World Hockey Championship and with Canada internationally and told him to enjoy the experience as much as possible.

“They have both been in this spot as well, and they wished me good luck. Told me it would be a great experience, and it made me excited to go.”

The semi-finals are set to begin today, starting with Misa’s team as Team Canada White squares up against Team Canada Red for a chance to play in the gold medal game tomorrow. 

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe

Latest News & Highlights