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Ottawa 67′s Taylor Davis proving to be a free-agent find

Ottawa rookie Taylor Davis (OHL Images)Taylor Davis, the revelation amid the Ottawa 67's rebuilding, has been about doing the unexpected from an early age.

The 67's have had a few curves thrown at them, what with their move to Scotiabank Place and injuries up front. But the most pleasant one is how a free-agent signing from New Jersey (by way of a Junior B team in Buffalo) has become a robust rookie rearguard. Then again, that's not exactly what Davis' loving family would have expected when he came into the world 17 years old. No one from the defenceman's family had ever played hockey.

"I actually was three years old and saw it on TV and said, 'Mommy, I want to do that,' " recalls Davis, who is listed at a sturdy 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds. "She [Deborah Davis, his mother] said, 'All right, next year I'll take you to the rink.

"No one in my family played. My mom's brother was drafted to the Atlanta Braves. He went on to be a doctor. We were always an athletic family more into football, basketball, baseball.

"I tried so many sports. My uncle wanted me to try baseball. I tried baseball. It was just like watching paint dry, being in the dugout so long. I tried football, didn't really like it, so hot outside. I liked basketball, but came in conflict with hockey, so I picked hockey."

It is looking like a wise move. Davis did not get taken in the OHL priority selection draft in 2011. He caught on with the Buffalo Jr. Blades of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League and scout Truman Dumel recommended him to the 67's.

"My first experience coming into rookie camp was really awkward," recalls Davis, who has a +4 plus/minus ranking despite being on a team which is ninth in the OHL's  Eastern Conference. "I didn't know much about the calibre. I knew about a couple of the players but wasn't sure what to expect. It was a fun experience."

The experience with Buffalo helped, though: "Some of the overagers in that league had dropped down from the OHL so that experience gave me an edge."

Watching Ottawa (7-15-0-2) play this season has been about spotting the baby steps that could lead them back to contention. The solidly built Davis has been playing in their top four and also sees a lot of penalty-kill time.

"He's playing big minutes for us and against top lines," 67's coach-GM Chris Byrne says. "I think he's done a very good job so far. It just goes to show that if you work hard and play the game the right way, good things will happen for you. He is a prime example of that."

"The more he plays, the better he's getting," Byrne adds. "It's just about making simple plays and good choices — which most of the time he does."

As a rookie, Davis is quiet, but his presence has meant the U.S. northeast is still represented in the 67's dressing room. He wears the same No. 18 that New York State native Shane Prince, now in the Ottawa Senators farm system, wore for three seasons with the Barberpoles.

Suffice to say, he's taken to playing in Canada's capital.

"I definitely like it better up here in Ottawa," Davis says. "I like the States, but I love it up here."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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