By Ken Pagan
Mark Duarte is proving it doesn’t matter where you are selected in the OHL Draft – what matters is how hard you work after you get drafted.
The swift-skating forward, who turned 17 last month, is getting his feet wet as a rookie in the Ontario Hockey League this season after shining last year with the Hamilton Kilty B’s.
Duarte was drafted by the Bulldogs in the 14th round, 278th overall, in 2018, but being a 14th-rounder didn’t stop Bulldogs president and general manager Steve Staios from locking up Duarte to a standard OHL player agreement this summer. Staios was able to keep tabs on Duarte’s continued improvement with the Kilty B’s last season, when he put up 11 goals and 25 points in 38 regular-season games as a 16-year-old.
The six-foot-two centre had opened eyes on a bigger stage during the holiday break, when he was selected to play in the GOJHL Future Stars showcase game and was named the game’s MVP. After showing steady improvement all season, Duarte stepped up his game in the playoffs, finishing third on the club with eight points in 10 games.
Duarte had been signed by the Kilty B’s in the summer of 2018 after continuously impressing at the junior ‘B’ club’s summer conditioning camp. Kilty B’s owner Tim Wilson insisted on finding a spot on the roster for the young rookie who had graduated from the Hamilton Huskies minor midget program.
“He is a Hamiltonian with a great family and Mark absolutely shined at the summer conditioning camp,” Wilson said. “And after just one season with the Kilty B’s, he is playing with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Mark will be put on the Kilty B’s Wall of Fame.”
Duarte has been held pointless in five OHL contests so far, but brings a positive attitude to the rink each night along with plenty of on-ice energy. As a 14th-round selection, he is the lowest-drafted player on the Bulldogs roster, but still working hard to continue developing his game.
Duarte is among a trio of Kilty B’s graduates currently making their way in the OHL with the Bulldogs. Goaltender Marco Costantini also shone with the Kilty B’s last season, while forward Liam Van Loon refined his game with the Ancaster Avalanche in 2017-18 before the club made the move to the Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena.