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Bulldogs rookie Matthew Strome leaning on brothers for experience

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Matthew Strome is reaping the benefits his older brothers' experience.

The 16-year-old Hamilton Bulldogs rookie is the younger brother of Arizona Coyotes prospect Dylan Strome and New York Islanders draft pick Ryan Strome. Matthew is still in constant contact with his siblings, who are both graduates of the Ontario Hockey League.

"I try to talk to them as much as I can. If it's not everyday, it's every other day so it's good to have them to talk to," Matthew Strome said.

Their advice?

"Just wait till you get your chance, and when you get your chance, you just have to capitalize," Strome said. "That's probably one of the biggest things they told me was just, if you're not having a good game or not having a good practice, just get in the gym (and) try to get in the extra work."

The siblings' impact on the youngest Strome is evident to Bulldogs head coach and general manager George Burnett.

Burnett, 53, has spent 26 years as a coach in a variety of capacities and believes Strome is a key building block for his franchise.

"I think he has a maturity beyond his years," Burnett said. "He captained the best team in the province last year with the (Toronto Marlboros) and there are a lot of the things that we liked about him — that he did understand the game and what he might lack.

"He's a winner and we need more of them like that."

Strome has two goals and two assists through the first 17 games of the season with the Bulldogs (8-14-1), who relocated from Belleville in the off-season.

He also represented Hockey Canada at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge earlier this month in Dawson Creek, B.C. The six-foot-three, 187-pound winger saw limited action due to injury, but called the opportunity a learning experience.

"Playing against the best players in the world was a great time and a great opportunity," Strome said. "It's a lot faster. It was just good to see how all the other kids throughout the world play and how different they are in style."

Strome, Hamilton's first ever pick (eighth overall) at the OHL priority selection draft,(The Canadian Press) scored 23 goals and 60 points in 64 games with the Marlboros last season while leading his team to an OHL Cup minor midget title.

The two-way forward still needs to put on size and improve his skating if he hopes to follow the footsteps of his brothers as a first-round NHL draft pick, but the Bulldogs feel those aspects of Strome's game will come with maturity and added responsibility.

"We're really excited about Matthew's prospects and the way he's played for us this year," said Burnett. "He's earning himself more and more of an opportunity as we go along.

"Over the next four years, he's going to take on a bigger and bigger role each and every year."

Dhiren Mahiban, The Canadian Press

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