Weight: 173 pounds
Date of birth: January 1, 1999
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Position: Center/Right Wing
OHL Draft: Round 1, 12th overall, 2015 OHL Priority Selection
The Kitchener Rangers selected Greg Meireles in the first round, twelfth overall in the 2015 Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection.
Despite being a first round pick, Meireles would play the 2015/2016 season with the Ottawa Jr Senators of the CCHL. He appeared in 48 games for the Jr Sens scoring 7 goals and adding 28 assists. He would suit up for 16 playoff games while scoring twice to go along with 6 assists.
After committing to the Rangers following the draft, Rangers’ GM Murray Heibert had this to say:
“Although he won’t join our team immediately, we see this as a move that is going to strengthen our hockey club in the future. Greg will be available to play games as an affiliate player and we look forward to having him join the team on a full time basis next season. This is a special player that excels at both ends of the ice. He possesses good hockey sense and the ability to make quick decisions at high speeds.”
Rangers’ fans had a glimpse into Meireles’ future when he appeared in 7 games for Kitchener. They were not disappointed with what they saw as he put up two goals and three assists in those seven games.
Internationally, Meireles suited up for Canada White at the 2016 World Hockey Challenge Under-17. In six games he scored once and assisted on another as Canada White won gold at the event. He also played for Team Canada at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup but was held off the score sheet in four games.
Meireles has been red hot to date this season having 14 points (4 goals and 12 assists) through his first dozen games while leading all rookies in assists, points and penalty minutes. He’s been everything the Rangers’ wanted him to be and more and I named him the OHL draft eligible player of the month for September.
Meireles plays the game with intensity and with an extremely high level of energy and combines those tangibles with an excellent work ethic. He applies those traits in all three zones with the same intensity in his own zone as he does in the offensive zone.
Despite being 5’10 and 173 pounds, Meireles battles fiercely along the walls for pucks, often against bigger players, and comes away with the pucks in those battles more often than not. He’s brought an element of physicality to his game that can only improve with added bulk to his frame. His speed, anticipation and work ethic make him relentless on the forecheck.
Meireles is a very good skater with excellent speed and a first step that rockets him to top speed. Combined with his abilities to anticipate, he can get into lanes quickly often taking away attempted passes. He has very good vision and playmaking skills and while he projects as a playmaker first, he possesses an above average shot that can beat goaltenders. He has an extremely high hockey IQ and thinks the game one or two steps ahead.
Mike Farwell, the play by play radio voice of the Kitchener Rangers on 570 News and host of the Post Game show on Rogers Television shared his thoughts with OHLW:
Greg is a highly skilled hockey player. Fast, with good hands and vision. What has impressed me the most is how strong he is. He doesn’t shy away from anything and will go anywhere to get a puck. I haven’t often seen that kind of tenacity from a first year guy.
OHLW also had the opportunity to speak with Gwen Meireles, Greg’s mother, on a variety of topics regarding his path.
OHLW: So I have to ask right from the start, since Ottawa is your hometown, is it safe to assume that the Senators are the family’s favorite team, and Greg’s?
Gwen: Yes, the family has been Sens fans from the beginning. Greg’s first hockey game was playing for the Little Sens AAA spring team. He played defence and wore #6. He was a Wade Redden fan at the time.
OHLW: When did Greg first get involved in hockey and how long has he been dreaming of being an NHL player?
Gwen: I believe we first had him on the ice around 4 years old. He loved it. My husband felt he should learn how to skate before putting a stick in his hands so we put him in public skating during the summer and we built a backyard rink in the winter where he’d spend a lot of his time. I think it was around a year later where we put a stick in his hands. I don’t think early on he dreamed of being an NHL’er. He just loved playing the game.
OHLW: Who was Greg’s favorite player growing up and did he ’emulate’ him?
Gwen: His first favorite player was Wade Redden. He later liked Alex Ovechkin. He liked his skill and his physical play. Greg doesn’t have the same physical body as Alex Ovechkin but he still emulates his physical play.
OHLW: Was Greg (and the rest of the family) involved in other sports growing up and did he have any thoughts of pursuing them or was it always hockey?
Gwen: Greg played a lot of soccer and tennis as well growing up. The whole family played tennis. Actually I met my husband on the tennis court. Greg was an accomplished tennis player and won the U10 city championship when he was 9 years old. At this point we felt that he should concentrate on one sport more but still play multiple sports. We left it up to him and he chose hockey.
OHLW: Greg had an excellent season with the Ottawa Jr 67’s that led to being the 12th overall pick in the 2015 OHL Draft by the Kitchener Rangers. The Rangers are an excellent organization as are the 67’s. Ottawa was picking four spots later. Was there any hoping that he’d be there for the 67’s so Greg could play for his hometown team?
Gwen: Deep down my husband and I wanted him to play in Ottawa but Greg just wanted to play on a team that really wanted him. We were all excited and pleased that an organization such as the Kitchener Rangers selected him.
OHLW: After the OHL draft Greg went on to play a season with Ottawa Jr Senators of the CCHL. What was the thought process for taking that route instead of going directly to the OHL?
Gwen: We just thought that Greg was not quite ready to leave home at such a young age. Another year home gaining size and maturity would help him transition into next year. The Ottawa Jr Sens really wanted him and we felt Greg would develop more here than in Kitchener where all their forwards were returning. Kitchener was going to call him up for some games so we thought that would be the best for Greg. It took some arm twisting but Greg agreed.
OHLW: Was any consideration given to going a different route entirely over the OHL?
Gwen: There were several offers from prestigious NCAA schools but Greg wanted to play in the OHL especially after Kitchener drafted him.
OHLW: We often hear from players in their draft years saying they “try not to think about the draft” or “it’s there in the back of their minds”. How do you help him keep focused on the task at hand or do you leave that to his coaches in Kitchener?
Gwen: We have been driving down to Kitchener every weekend thus far. We talked to him about it last weekend but he says he really doesn’t think about it. He just tries to prepare for each game and play the best he can. We will leave this to his coaches.
OHLW: The NHL is changing, and we’re seeing smaller players that can skate and have skill be more successful. That gives Greg an advantage but he plays much bigger than his 5’10” frame. As a mother, it’s only natural to worry. Do you try to get him to ‘tone it down’?
Gwen: I do worry but he likes to play a physical game. It is tough to watch because many players are taller and heavier but it’s how he likes to play. He works really hard in the gym and I know he is in good physical shape so that helps a bit.
OHLW: At the start of every NHL season, as we are watching Hockey Night in Canada, a player scores his first NHL goal and immediately the cameras turn to his parents sitting in the stands. As you watch that happen, do you ever think about you and your family there as Greg nets his first NHL goal?
Gwen: Yes. We had 11 family members down to watch Greg’s first game this year. The team won, Greg had 1 goal and 2 assists and was named first star. We were so excited and proud. I just can’t explain how proud I was. I know the NHL is a long ways off and may never happen but we would be so proud of him after all these years of him working so hard.
I want to thank Gwen for taking the time out to talk to me and I am sure the readers will greatly appreciate the time as well.
Statistics of Greg Meireles, a hockey player from Orleans, ONT born Jan 1 1999 who was active from 2014 to 2017.