Toronto, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Thomas Sirman of the Ottawa 67’s, Liam Ross of the Sudbury Wolves, Bryce Montgomery of the London Knights and Drew Wawrow of the Soo Greyhounds have been named OHL Academic Players of the Month for February.

Though the puck has yet to drop on the 2020-21 OHL Regular Season, players are striving for excellence in the classroom through their studies. The League continues to work with government and public health agencies to prepare a safe return to play. Academic players of the month are listed in correspondence with their 2019-20 divisions. Details concerning the structure of 2020-21 team alignment will be made available upon release of the OHL Regular Season schedule.

Here’s a look at the OHL’s Academic Players of the Month for February:

East Division: Rookie defenceman Thomas Sirman of the Ottawa 67’s is being recognized as February’s East Division Academic Player of the Month. The 16-year-old native of Aurora, Ont. has completed five university level high school credits at Blyth Academy Ottawa in Advanced Functions, Society Challenge and Change, Biology, English and French and holds an overall average of 85%. He is currently taking Grade 12 Economics and Food and Nutrition with plans to graduate a semester early.

Sirman’s work ethic, study habits and participation in his virtual classes have continued to impress the teaching staff at Blyth. “Thomas is a very mature and organized student who will do very well balancing full time academics and hockey when that time comes,” said 67’s academic advisor Eileen Duffin.

Sirman was drafted in the third round of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection out of the GTHL’s Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16 program where he put up 16 points (1-15—16) over the regular season and added nine points (2-7—9) in the playoffs.

Central Division: Sudbury’s Liam Ross has been named the Central Division’s Academic Player of the Month for February. The 19-year-old defenceman has completed three university courses at Laurentian University and has achieved a B in Computer Science I, an A+ in Computer Science II and an A in Linear Algebra. He is currently taking Calculus I, Psychology and Intro to Macroeconomics, the latter of which he is taking in French.

Ross is described as an “excellent leader and defenceman.”

The Markham, Ont. native recorded 15 points (2-13—15) in 63 games with the Wolves over the 2019-20 campaign. The fourth year Wolves defenceman won an OHL Cup title with the Mississauga Reps U16 program in 2017.

Midwest Division: Bryce Montgomery of the London Knights is the Midwest Division’s Academic Player of the Month for February. Over his first term at Blyth Academy, the 18-year-old defenceman achieved a 79% in English and 85% in Communication Technology. He achieved a 92% in his Interdisciplinary Studies course last summer and currently maintains an 82% in Business Leadership as well as a 78% in Equity and Social Justice.

“Bryce is a very dedicated and hardworking student both in the classroom and on the ice. He is a leader in the classroom, completing his work and being respectful to both his classmates and teachers,” wrote Knights academic advisor Trish Hurley. “Bryce has adapted well to virtual learning, arriving to his Zoom classes promptly and using the virtual environment to the best of his ability. This is an exceptional year, and Bryce should be commended for his flexibility and willingness to learn in a new environment.”

Montgomery recorded two assists in 33 games with London during the 2019-20 season. The Bowie, Maryland native joined the Knights as a free agent in 2019 after playing for Cushing Academy in the USHS-Prep circuit.

West Division: Drew Wawrow of the Soo Greyhounds is the West Division’s Academic Player of the Month for February. The 20-year-old defenceman has excelled in his studies at Algoma University with marks of 97% in Business and 94% in Introductory Psychology.

Wawrow’s academic efforts have been praised by Greyhounds academic advisor Mary-Lynne Lukenda. “During this difficult time for the players, Drew has been very positive in all aspects of his academics. He is in contact with his professors when needed and in touch with his academic advisors when necessary,” said Lukenda. “Drew has become a real leader in his University courses by keeping on top of assignments and being diligent in his homework. We are proud of his attentiveness to school and his commitment to academics.”

Wawrow recorded one goal and six points over 56 games with the Greyhounds in 2019-20. Originally a seventh round pick of the Sudbury Wolves out of the GTHL’s Toronto Titans U16 program, the third year blueliner was traded to Sault Ste. Marie during the 2018-19 season.

2020-21 OHL Academic Players of the Month:

East Division:
February – Thomas Sirman (Ottawa 67’s)
January – Cooper Way (Oshawa Generals)
December – Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs)
November – Lawson Sherk (Hamilton Bulldogs)

Central Division:
February – Liam Ross (Sudbury Wolves)
January – Pano Fimis (Niagara IceDogs)
December – Tnias Mathurin (North Bay Battalion)
November – Hunter Haight (Barrie Colts)

Midwest Division:
February – Bryce Montgomery (London Knights)
January – Trent Swick (Kitchener Rangers)
December – Eric Uba (Guelph Storm)
November – Connor Lockhart (Erie Otters)

West Division:
February – Drew Wawrow (Soo Greyhounds)
January – Ryan Mast (Sarnia Sting)
December – Davis “T-Bone” Codd (Saginaw Spirit)
November – Gavin Hayes (Flint Firebirds)

Last season, the OHL Centrally Administered Scholarship Program facilitated scholarships for 340 OHL Alumni at 69 different academic institutions across North America with a total scholarship payment in excess of $3.2 million. Since the 2007-08 season, OHL Scholarship payments have totalled more than $25 million.

Click here for more information about ‘OHL Players First’ programs

Liam Ross – Sudbury Wolves – Player Profile

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 197 pounds

Date of birth: May 13, 2001

Hometown: Markham, Ontario

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 4, 63rd overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: C Prospect. Mid-term: 183 NA Skaters

Sudbury Wolves blueliner Liam Ross played his Minor Midget AAA hockey with the Mississauga Reps during the 2016-2017 season notching 4 goals and 8 helpers while appearing in 32 games. He added a goal in 8 games at the OHL Cup as the Reps went on to win the Championship. The Wolves would select Ross in the 4th round, 63rd overall at the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Liam Ross of the Sudbury Wolves. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Liam Ross of the Sudbury Wolves. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Ross would enter his rookie season with the Wolves a year ago and play in all but 8 games. He scored 4 goals and assisted on 5 others in those 60 contests. He upped his offensive output this season with 7 goals and 22 assists while appearing in all 68 games. He added a helper in the Playoffs, as the Wolves were eliminated in the second round.

Ross is an intelligent two-way defender whose defensive game is already ahead of the development curve expected at this stage. However, his upside is directly linked to just how high his offensive abilities can take him.

The general consensus is that Ross’ skating is just average. He has a short stride that prevents him from generating a quick first step. That quickness is lacking moving east-west as well.

That said, Ross makes up for any skating deficiencies with high level hockey IQ. Defensively, he keeps his gaps close and uses a long reach and active stick to break up plays. He angles opponents off extremely well but adding more physicality to his game would make him even more effective. He needs to become quicker in his puck retrieval and skating out of his own zone, but he does make a very good pass to transition to offense.

Offensively, Ross will take some chances. He won’t always take risks, but is adept at knowing when to pinch and has some success when doing so. His vision is very good and he identifies them quickly and is able to deliver a perfect pass. He possesses a deceptively heavy shot from the point and is able to get it through traffic and on target more often then not.

I’ve said it before and it is worth repeating when discussing Ross: I’m not worried about skating as I was just a few short years ago. There are so many quality skating coaches out there and the list of players who have improved their skating is a long one.

As long as the player has a willingness to put the work in, it shouldn’t be a problem. There’s nothing seen from Ross that suggests he wouldn’t put in the effort.

Stat page from Elite Prospects