Men’s Hockey: Oleksiak leaves, signs with Saginaw Spirit

By Anthony Gulizia, News Staff

The chance that 6-foot-7-inch, 240-pound defenseman Jamie Oleksiak would go unnoticed by NHL teams was slim-to-none.

And when the Huskies’ looming blueliner was drafted by the Dallas Stars as the 14th overall pick in the first round of the NHL Draft June 24, it wasn’t a question of if he would leave – it was a matter of when – especially after coach Greg Cronin parted ways with the team.

Monday, Oleksiak decided he would leave northeastern when the Saginaw Spirit, a member of the Ontario Hockey League, announced they signed Oleksiak to a contract.

“We have been after him for a couple of years, similar to how we were after Brandon Saad leading up to last season,” Saganaw coach Tom Watson said in a statement released Monday. “This is an important signing that helps to strengthen our defense and we look forward to him coming into camp, adjusting to the caliber of OHL hockey and contributing in the 2011-2012 season.”

Watson and his staff have been recruiting Oleksiak since the team selected him 138th overall in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection.

Last season, Oleksiak scored four goals and 13 points in 38 games. The Toronto, Ontario native decided to pass on an invitation to the US World Junior Team Camp to try out for the Canadian World Juniors Squad. The Canadian National Junior Team’s Summer Development Camp is scheduled for Aug. 3-7 in Edmonton, Alberta.

“With the addition of Jamie Oleksiak to the Spirit roster, Todd Watson and his staff have continued to build the foundation of a top contender,” Spirit President and Partner Craig Goslin said. “The sports fans of the Great Lakes Bay Region are in for a really fun season with this year’s Spirit team poised to do great things as we celebrate ten years of Spirit hockey. We invite our great fans to join us at The Dow Event Center when the season starts this September.”

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