Normally too young to play pro, Griffins rookie surprises

Grand Rapids Griffins

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Griffins defenseman Donovan Sebrango has had a very impressive first pro season. At just 19 years old, the Grand Rapids rookie is doing so at a level that, in a normal year, he wouldn’t even be allowed to play in.

“Yeah, he’s really impressed me,” said defensive partner and veteran Dylan McIlrath. “He’s been kind of thrown into the fire and playing a lot of minutes, like we’re really relying on him.

“It’s been a good time here,” Sebrango said. “I didn’t really come in with any expectations or goals, kind of cause I knew I wouldn’t be here without kind of the crazy year going on. But I think I’m doing well. I’d say I’m in a pretty good spot right now.”

Sebrango was originally scheduled to play in the Ontario Hockey League this season. He wasn’t old enough, nor did he have enough “Major Junior” experience to play in the American Hockey League. But when the OHL opted out of a 2021 season, the rule was waived for AHL’s season.

“Unfortunate for the Ontario Hockey League,” said Griffins head coach Ben Simon. “But it’s been a great opportunity for him to come in here and get the experience he has this year.”

The Red Wings third round draft choice from 2020, Sebrango has gotten a ton of it, playing not only regularly, but top four and often top pairing minutes with Dylan McIlarath.  

“I think it’s helped tremendously,” Sebrango said. “I mean you’ve got Lashoff, you’ve got Hicketts, you got McIlrath, those guys are elite players in their D-zone. So I think just kind of taking away just the little details they take into their game, just getting to watch them day in and day out, do there think is what’s really helping me a lot.”

“I’m really enjoying playing with him,” McIlrath said. “He’s got that competitive spirit and wants to win, so it’s fun to watch him get better every day.”

“I think he holds himself to high expectations,” Simon added. “And he wants to be a player, so he’s been a pleasant surprise. He’s got a bright future.”

The Red Wings certainly hope so.  

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