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Petes defense Smith overcomes some obstacles to earn OHL spot

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Conor Smith has been waiting a long time for Thursday’s game.

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With this, the Peterborough Petes second-year defense finally returned to Windsor to face the WFCU Center-bred Spitfire team.

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“It feels great to play in my hometown,” said Smith, 18. “I’ve been waiting since last year. I’ve been counting down every day.”

As a rookie last season at Petes, Smith was unable to play at home. I didn’t play against any team.

“I know my whole family is looking forward to it,” said Smith, who expected about 300 friends and family to attend. “I didn’t have anything last year, so I checked the schedule and immediately circled it.”

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The fact that the Windsor Jr. Spitfires minor midget product has arrived is a testament to the perseverance of the player who was the 175th overall pick in the 2020 Ontario Hockey League Draft, with Peetes acquiring him in the ninth round.

“I wanted to go higher, but every kid wants to go higher,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t have been satisfied with the first round or the second round.”

Add to that the fact that his 2020-21 season was wiped out by the pandemic, and he showed up at camp with Pete last season, ready to leave his mark.

“I came into the rink with no backup plan,” Smith said. “I wanted to build a team.”

He did just that, but what impressed Peetes was Smith’s commitment to training camp, more than a year after the day he was drafted in 2020.

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“Unfortunately, the (2020-21) season didn’t go well and we didn’t even get a chance to do a development camp to see where he would fit in,” said Peet’s general manager Michael Oak. “But he was very proactive and we communicated a lot that year trying to do the best we could on and off the ice.

“Conor was very receptive to that and was in frequent and regular contact with the coaches for more information and knowledge. He went to Nashville and stayed with family friends. (When Ontario was shut down), we did the training, he worked hard and kept making progress.When we went to camp last year, we didn’t know much about what anyone could do. Since he was nominated, he came in and showed early on that he deserves a chance.”

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At 6 feet 6 inches and 200 pounds, Smith is hard to miss on the ice and is just beginning to grow into that physique.

“I’m still growing into my body,” Smith said.

“As a bigger man, I knew I had to play that awkward role. And your timing has to be on the ball.You have to learn the speed and angles at that speed.I think I adapted to that pretty quickly.”

He has also caught the attention of the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, which has put him on its preliminary watch list as a prospect for the 2023 draft.

“For his size, he moves very well,” Oke said. “He’s physical, he’s not afraid to go into corners. He really works great.”

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Smith has made no secret of the fact that he wants to become an NHL defenseman one day, but he also knows it’s a long process with a lot of work.

“My main goal is to play in the NHL and have a career,” Smith said. “[Being on the ranking list]is good and it feels good, but in the end it doesn’t matter in the long run. I know I’m doing the right thing, but there’s room for improvement.” There is always.”

Oke said it was Smith’s never-satisfactory attitude that set him apart from the rest.

“He’s a good teammate and a good ambassador,” Oke said. “When it comes to the NHL Draft, I know he has ambitions. Opposition players know when he’s on the ice, and I think he gets a fair amount of attention.

“When a scout comes to the rink, he’s one of the players they focus on and I think the sky is his limit. When you look at his professional potential, his ability to perform physically Yes, the way he moves on the ice is a great combination, but I can’t express how hard he works both on and off the ice.”



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Petes defense Smith overcomes some obstacles to earn OHL spot

Source link Petes defense Smith overcomes some obstacles to earn OHL spot

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