Three players, one minor hockey team and a legacy that continues to be
built. After first joining forces in minor hockey, Brandt Clarke, Brennan
Othmann and Shane Wright have taken the hockey world by storm and are
reunited again to compete for gold at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.
In 2016, Clarke had just moved from Ottawa to Toronto ahead of his U14 AAA
season. He joined the Greater Toronto Hockey League’s (GTHL) Don Mills
Flyers, where he was introduced to two other players that were new to the
team: Othmann and Wright.
“I actually didn’t know who either of them [was], I just knew some of the
other guys on Don Mills,” Clarke explains. “But we clicked right away, we
were the new guys. We talked, we gelled early and there’s just a connection
there. They’re two special players.”
Othmann and Wright had previously played against each other, but never on
the same team. During a spring tournament, Flyers head coach Marc Slawson
pointed out Wright to Othmann, saying he would likely play with him.
“I looked at Shane on the ice and you automatically saw that he stood out,
and I was excited watching him play,” Othmann says. “He’s a really good
On the ice, the three Don Mills Flyers quickly gained chemistry with each
“I think we fed off each other really well,” Wright says. “We understood
where each other were on the ice, we’re reacting and reading off each other
on the ice. We just always had that chemistry.”
The team was a force to be reckoned with. During the three years Clarke,
Othmann and Wright wore the Flyers logo, they won three consecutive GTHL
championships, the 2018 All-Ontario U15 AAA Championship and the 2019 OHL
Cup after going 30-0-3 in the GTHL during the 2018-19 regular season.
But the team also faced adversity. In the middle of its U15 championship
campaign, Flyers goaltender Roy Pejcinovski was killed in a triple homicide
along with his mother and 13-year-old sister, Vana, in Ajax, Ont.
“In that situation, you either come together or you spread apart, and our
team obviously came together,” Othmann says.
“It was definitely something that still sticks with us every day,” Clarke
adds. “I still think of Roy every single day.”
With Pejcinovski in their hearts, Don Mills continued to play for its
netminder throughout the remainder of its time together, culminating in the
2019 OHL Cup. Although the Flyers trailed the Toronto Red Wings (who
included World Juniors teammate Adam Fantilli) 4-1 after the first period,
they battled back to push the game to overtime.
“Clarke stole the puck from the other team and gave me a little high-flip
pass,” Wright explains. “I skate onto it, and we had a 2-on-1 with me and
[Othmann]. I passed it and he did the rest.”
“That game was so special. We came in with a lot of adversity and we wanted
to win that for our goalie Roy and his family,” Othmann says. “It’s kind of
funny thinking about it: Clarkey to Shane, Shane to me. In that way, it
looks cool on the box score. That’s my favourite memory of the Flyers and
it’s my favourite memory with those two.”
After the OHL Cup, the trio went off on their own hockey journeys. All
three players were selected in the top four picks of the 2019 OHL Priority
Selection. Wright became the fifth player granted exceptional-player status
and was selected first by the Kingston Frontenacs. Othmann was taken second
by the Flint Firebirds and Clarke was grabbed fourth overall by the Barrie
“It’s kind of crazy,” Clarke says. “We’re all first-round picks. We’re all
going to other places around the continent, but when we got the word that
all three us of were going to be back together and play on the global stage
like this, it was really cool. We’re all texting each other right away…
when I saw them in the airport, I went up and gave them a hug.”
The 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship marks the second time the Don Mills
trio has reunited on the international stage. In 2021, they won gold at the
IIHF U18 World Championship. Wright co-led the Canadians in scoring with 14
points and a Canadian record nine goals, Othmann had three goals and three
assists and Clarke chipped in with two goals and five helpers.
Although their teams are spread out across North America (all three were
first-round NHL picks as well), the three Flyers remain in touch. They have
an active group chat, they’ll make time to go golfing or skate together, or
play the NHL series video games to stay connected. But despite the
distance, the connection remains just as strong as it was at Don Mills.
“That chemistry has stayed the same, just like how we were in minor,”
Wright says. “It’s always going to be there, that bond and that trust [we
To be able to play in multiple world championships together with two of
your buddies from your minor hockey team is an unlikely feat. But Clarke,
Othmann and Wright each push each other to be the best they can be—and that
payoff is evident on the ice.
“To do this with Shane and Brennan, the two guys I consider like brothers
to me, it’s really special,” Clarke adds.
“Those two have been great the whole way since I’ve been 14,” Othmann says.
“It’s been a crazy few years. It’s been ups and downs for all of us but at
the same time, it’s been an unbelievable journey and it’s been an
unbelievable time with them. To cap it off at the World Juniors, it’s going
to be something special.”