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Orillia's Colby Barlow named OHL's Scholastic Player of the Year

'Playing hockey at an elite level and excelling at academics are really two sides of the same coin,' said Barlow, who was named Orillia's Athlete of the Year in February
Owen Sound Attack captain Colby Barlow was named Orillia's Athlete of the Year for 2022 in February.

Orillia's Colby Barlow, a smart player on the ice, has also proven his intelligence off the ice.

Barlow, who is expected to be a first-round pick in the NHL draft this summer, was named the OHL's Scholastic Player of the Year on Thursday. The rugged winger, who was the youngest captain in Owen Sound Attack history, is the first player in the franchise's history to win the prestigious award.

“I’m truly honoured to be awarded the Bobby Smith Trophy,” Barlow said in a media release. “Playing hockey at an elite level and excelling at academics are really two sides of the same coin. It would be inconsistent for someone with the dedication it requires to perform at an elite level in sports, not to apply that same dedication to their academic studies.

"To excel in hockey it requires talent, but more importantly it requires discipline. The skillsets in athletics and academics are interrelated and I appreciate everyone with the Owen Sound Attack who has helped me as I continue to try and excel in both of those areas," Barlow said.

Fresh-off setting an Attack rookie record for goals as a 16-year-old with 30 in 2021-22, Barlow emerged as one of five OHL players with at least 46 goals in his sophomore season.

“Colby has found an incredible way to balance both on-ice brilliance and excellence in the classroom,” said Attack General Manager Dale DeGray. “He also did a tremendous job serving as captain of our team in just his second season, and has amazed many at the Bayshore, scoring some outstanding goals and demonstrating what it truly means to be a leader both on and off the ice.”

Barlow, who was named Orillia's Athlete of the Year for 2022, earned an overall average of 93 percent across Grade 12 University-level courses: Challenge and Change in Society (97 percent), Families in Canada (96 percent), Organizational Business (95 percent), Business Leadership (95 percent), International Business (90 percent), and English (85 percent) at Owen Sound District Secondary School.

On the ice, Barlow enters the 2023 NHL Draft as the OHL’s highest-ranked skater, coming in at 12th on NHL Central Scouting’s final list of North American players eligible for the annual selection that takes place in Nashville, Tenn. on June 28-29. He led the Attack in 2022-23 producing 79 points including 46 goals, 33 assists and a league-leading 12 game-winning tallies in 59 games.

The former Orillia minor hockey player is  currently representing Canada at the 2023 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Switzerland, and also wore the maple leaf, winning gold for Canada at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Alberta last summer. Barlow competed in the 2023 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game this past January in Langley, BC. Originally selected by the Attack with their first round (8th overall) pick in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection, Barlow went on to be voted to the league’s first all-rookie team in 2021-22.

“Colby has a very positive attitude that is evident in everything he does,” commented Attack Academic Advisor Sarah Rowe. “He leads by example and preaches accountability both in school and in the dressing room. Colby is an honour roll student and a star on the ice who continues to do Owen Sound proud.”

Each year the Bobby Smith Trophy is presented to the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year who best combines high standards of play and academic excellence. The trophy is in honour of Bobby Smith, a former Ottawa 67s star who exhibited a standard of excellence in both of these areas.

Past recipients since the award was first presented in 1980 include three-time winner Dustin Brown (Guelph 2001-03), Steven Stamkos (Sarnia 2007), Ryan Ellis (Windsor 2008), Matt Duchene (Brampton 2009), Erik Gudbranson (Kingston 2010), Dougie Hamilton (Niagara 2011), Adam Pelech (Erie 2012), Darnell Nurse (Sault Ste. Marie 2013), back-to-back winner Connor McDavid (Erie 2014, ’15), Sasha Chmelevski (Ottawa 2017), Barrett Hayton (Sault Ste. Marie 2018), Thomas Harley (Mississauga 2019), Cole Perfetti (Saginaw 2020) and Owen Beck (Mississauga 2022).

Barlow will be the OHL’s nominee for the Canadian Hockey League Scholastic Player of the Year Award, presented at the CHL Awards Ceremony on Saturday, June 3 during the 2023 Memorial Cup presented by Kia which takes place in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Barlow will be formally presented with the Bobby Smith Trophy at the OHL’s Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, June 14 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

All 20 of the OHL’s member clubs provide nominees for the Bobby Smith Trophy, with nominees representing the 2022-23 OHL Scholastic Team.