Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Whalers ink local goaltender for '05-06

Whalers sign goalie Jeremy Smith

Goaltender Jeremy Smith, the Plymouth Whalers fourth round (64th overall) pick in the 2005 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, has signed with the Whalers and will compete for a roster spot this fall.

Smith, a native of Brownstown Township, posted a 2.44 goals against average and three shutouts in 39 games last season for the Belle Tire minor midgets.

“We think Smith's the best goalie in the draft,” said Plymouth head coach and general manager Mike Vellucci. “We're happy to take him where we did.”

“He's one of the best goaltenders in the United States,” said Plymouth head scout Jim Debenham. “Every time we watched him last year, he was outstanding. There was a game at the OHL Cup Tournament last spring when he allowed eight goals in the game and was named the star of the game. He must have stopped 50 shots and still gave up eight and was called the best player in the game.”

Smith said several factors led to his family's decision to sign with Plymouth.

“There wasn't just one thing – it was a great package,” Smith said. “I love the idea of being able to stay at home while playing for the Whalers. Everyone we've met has been unbelievably nice, especially Mr. Vellucci. I met a lot of the players at (rookie) camp and they all seem like a good group of guys. I have no regrets.”

Plymouth - 30-29-6-3 last season – played last year with 19-year-old Ryan Nie and 17-year-old Justin Garay in goal. Nie played in 57 games last year and could return next season as an overage player. Garay played in 22 games last year as a rookie.

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