Friday, July 27, 2007

Whalers sign 2006 pick Kane

The Plymouth Whalers announced the signing of defenseman Tom Kane, who was selected by the Whalers in the third round (53rd overall) of the 2006 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

“We’re excited to have Tom in Plymouth,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “He’s a strong, physical, stay-at-home defenseman who should develop into a good player.”

Kane, from Thunder Bay, Ontario, and 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, played last season for the Thunder Bay Bearcats of the Superior International Junior Hockey League in northern Ontario, where he scored a goal with nine assists for 10 points and 160 penalty minutes in 42 games. Kane was voted the Bearcats’ Rookie of the Year last season as the only 16-year-old player and 1990 birthday on the roster.

Kane says he patterns his play after defenseman Scott Stevens.

The Bearcats went 29-17-1-3 during the regular season in the SIJHL and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the league champion Schreiber Diesels.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Plymouth assistant Watson resigns

Plymouth Whalers assistant general manager and assistant coach Todd Watson resigned Tuesday.

“Todd and I have worked together for almost 11 years,” Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci said. “I appreciate everything Todd has done for the organization. But with success, there are opportunities for everyone. I’ve said it many times – I couldn’t have done my job without Todd’s contribution. Nobody works harder. He will be missed by everyone in Plymouth and we wish him well.”

Watson was about to start his fifth season in Plymouth and his 11th within the Compuware system. He was part of a Whalers’ team that won the Ontario Hockey League championship last season and competed in the Canadian Hockey League’s MasterCard Memorial Cup Tournament in Vancouver in May.

Rumors are circulating that Watson may wind up being named the head coach of the Saginaw Spirit - stay tuned.

Photo by Walt Dmoch

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rangers search for B2 Networks broadcaster

The Marquette Rangers are searching the greater Marquette County area for the person who will be their voice on the internet this upcoming season.

The Rangers, along with all other North American Hockey League teams, are under contract with B2 Networks to provide internet audio and video casts of all their home games this season, creating a great opportunity for some lucky fan.

“This is going to be a great amount of fun,” said GM David Saint-Onge. “Our league has taken a big step forward in providing fans the chance to keep up with their favorite team through these internet-casts, and we need someone who can step in and provide the play-by-play of our team; while at the same time portraying our organization and our great community in a positive way. This is a great opportunity for anyone who’s ever watched or listened to a game and thought they could do better than the announcer on the TV or radio. We’re looking for someone who not only loves hockey, but loves Ranger hockey and is willing to join us in sharing the Marquette Rangers and the U.P. to the world.”

Although the team is looking at this as a unique and fun opportunity, Saint-Onge emphasized that the person named the team play-by-play announcer must be a person who understands the role they will be filling with the organization.

“We’ve gone to great lengths to be as professional with our hockey club as possible, and we want someone who will take their representing our team seriously," added Saint-Onge. "This is a great opportunity, but with it comes great responsibility so we will be very careful not to let just anyone grab a headset and go on the air as a member of our organization. We want to make this fun, but it’s a valuable position one that needs to be appreciated by the person providing the play-by-play.”

Interested people are encouraged to contact Mark Evans, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, in the Rangers front office inside Lakeview Arena at 906-225-9077 or by email. Anyone interested will need to have contacted the organization by August 15 so the proper screening process can be completed before the Rangers exhibition game with the Detroit Red Wings Alumni on September 15.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jenks makes U.S. Under-18 Selects

USA Hockey today announced the 21-player roster and coaching staff for its 2007 U.S. Under-18 Select Team. The squad will compete in the 2007 Under-18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka from August 14-18 in Piestany, Slovakia and Hodonin, Czech Republic.

Team members were chosen from the 2007 USA Hockey Select 17 Player Development Camp, which was held July 7-13 at the National Hockey Center at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., and featured many of America’s best hockey players born in 1990.

Two Michigan natives are on the team including Plymouth Whalers' forward AJ Jenks (Wolverine Lake) and Belle Tire midget forward Shawn Szydlowski (St. Clair Shores).

Photo - Jenks at a Whalers' summer hockey camp last summer.

IceDiggers' camps ready to go full swing

With the Alpena IceDiggers looking to improve on last season's playoff appearance, the coaching staff will welcome over 70 players to Alpena for an open camp that will be held Wednesday, July 25 to Friday, July 27. Players from all over the United States will invade Northern Lights Arena looking to earn a spot to the invite-only camp that will be held following the open camp.

"We are excited with the number of kids that are attending the open camp, but importantly we are happy with the caliber of players and their hockey skills that they will display during the week," said Alpena head coach Kenny Miller.

At the conclusion of the open camp, the coaching staff will reduce the number of players to the top 40 players and these young men will participate in the invite-only camp that runs from Sunday, July 29 through Tuesday, July 31.

Several players from last years team as well as players Miller tendered during the season last year will be in attendance looking to secure a spot on the 25-man roster. Those players include Jimmy McCusker, Erik Peterson, Ben Kitzmiller, Mike DeGrazia, Evan West, Kerry Bence and Carl Nielsen. Recently-acquired Chris Perko, who spent the 2006-07 season with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, will also be in camp. Tendered players that are attending the camp are Dan Pason, Tyler Pilmore, JC Gulch, Jon Puskar and Andy Yarber.

The schedule for both the open camp and the invite only camp can be found below or by visiting the IceDiggers website at or by calling the main office at (989) 356-9812.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

11:00AM-12:20PM RED VS. BLACK

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Friday, July 27, 2007


Sunday, July 29, 2007


Monday, July 30, 2007


Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Alpena captain off to D-III River Falls

Former Alpena IceDiggers captain Nolan Craner has committed to play at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, a Division III school, next season.

The Plainwell native spent three seasons with the IceDiggers and served as captain for two of the three seasons. In 143 career games, the power forward scored 38 goals and assisted on 66 for a total of 104 points. His best offensive season came in 2007 when he scored 25 goals and 40 assists for 65 points.

"Nolan is a first-class kid who was the type of player you want the rest of the team to look up to," said Alpena head coach Kenny Miller. "He will make an impact right away at the college level and I couldn't be happier for him and his family."

Craner, Ricardo Yesue and Miller were the only three from the IceDiggers organization to make the move from Toledo to Alpena three seasons ago. Both players will spend the next four years together at River Falls.

The Falcons compete in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association and complied a record of 21-6-2 last season.

Craner and Yesue join Zach Barron (UMass-Boston), Justin Stadler (Adrian), Korey O'Brien (Wisconsin-Stevens Point) and Chris Hendrickson (Finlanda) as members of the 2006-2007 IceDiggers club that have moved onto the D-III level for next season.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rangers ready for final tryout camp

The Marquette Rangers will hold the team's final camp this weekend at the Berry Events Center at Northern Michigan University. The second-year North American Hockey League franchise will use this weekend to evaluate talent and pick the preliminary roster for the 2007-08 Rangers from nearly 70 hopefuls from around the country.

"This is the final step for players hoping to become Marquette Rangers," said head coach Randy Enders. "We've seen these guys at our camps in Marquette, Chicago and Detroit and now is the hard part - determining who the elite players are from this group.

"The neat part of this process for fans is the chance to see some really competitive hockey in July, because these guys are literally fighting for their hockey lives at this final tryout. Any player here can make the team, but it'll only be the players who give us their very best who will wear our jersey starting in September."

Enders, assistant coach Dieter Kochan and members of the Rangers recruiting staff will asses the players in game situations, with final all-star games are on Sunday. The angers are scheduled to release the preliminary roster for training camp on Monday, July 16.

Nine members of last year's team will also be in camp to try and regain their spot with the second year team, including goaltenders Beau Christian and Matt Brooker.

Brooker, 18, from Richmond, Va., says it will be a tough camp since the Rangers are now an established Junior A program.

"Now that guys know about Marquette, we're going to see better and better players coming to camps" said Brooker. "When a team is new, sometimes you don't get the number of quality players because guys sort of wait and see how good that team will be. Our success with making the playoffs last year means it's going to be tougher to make the team this season, which should make us an even better team than we were in the first year."

Nic Weight, Nick Condon, James Gallagher, Mike Macari, Mike O'Brien, Dustin Partacz and Derek Grogan will also be looking to reclaim spots on the roster for the upcoming season.

The camp will also feature the Rangers two picks from May's NAHL draft: Anthony Leone of Honeybaked and Garrett Ladd of Victory Honda.

In addition, the seven players tendered by the club prior to the NAHL draft will be skating for a spot on the final roster: Ian Andrews of Sheboygan (Wis.) High School and Team Wisconsin, Josh Bussell of Honeybaked, Kyle Jean of the Soo Indians Midget AAA, Josh Kesler of Victory Honda, Kevin Kranker of Lake Orion High School, Tyler Mathews of the Buffalo Junior Sabres and Collin Saint-Onge of the Marquette Electricians Midget AAA.

Also skating for a spot with the Rangers will be Aaron Pietila, who was obtained in a pre-draft trade with Traverse City.

"The returning guys will have a bit of an advantage," added Enders. "They have a good idea now of what it takes to compete at this level so I expect them to have some success at this camp, but there are no guarantees, so the returning guys will have to fight just as hard as everyone else. I hope people come and take this in this weekend because it's going to be really good hockey."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Saginaw lands Don Edwards as new GM

The Saginaw Spirit have announced the addition of Don Edwards to the hockey staff in the capacity of general manager.

Edwards had a highly successful NHL career that included stops in Buffalo, Calgary, and Toronto. He was also a recipient of the NHL's Vezina Trophy. Edwards also has extensive NHL coaching experience, notching significant time with both Los Angeles and Carolina.

“We're pleased that we are able to attract such a knowledgeable hockey person and fine man as Don Edwards,” stated Spirit owner and governor Dick Garber. “He's going to be a wonderful representative of our community and our team. We look forward to Don's energy, enthusiasm and commitment to build something special here.”

“I am truly humbled and honored for this great opportunity,” said Edwards. “I look forward to bringing a championship-caliber team to Saginaw. I would like to thank Dick Garber and Craig Goslin for the opportunity. They have done a remarkable job with this team and its community impact and I look forward to adding another element to that.”

Edwards has an extensive career in hockey as a goalie, starting with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHA. The Buffalo Sabres picked Edwards 89th overall in the 1975 Amateur Draft and he spent two seasons in the AHL with the Hershey Bears before moving up to Buffalo, where he played six seasons. Edwards also spent three seasons with the Flames and one with the Maple Leafs.

Edwards won the Vezina with teammate Bob Sauve during the 1979-1980 season with Buffalo.

Edwards worked with the Kings as an assistant coach during the 1998-99 season and with the Hurricanes as a goaltending coach in the 2003-2004 season. He also spent several years consulting with both teams.

Most recently, Edwards served as the vice president, director of hockey operations, general manager and head coach of the Ontario Provincial Junior League's Oakville Blades.

“He has over 20 years of experience coordinating, coaching and managing top level hockey operations,” stated Goslin. “From Scotty Bowman to Paul Maurice, the positive references for Don Edwards are extraordinary. His life's passion has been the game of hockey both as an NHL All-Star player and as an NHL coach. We are thrilled to have Don Edwards and his wife Tannis and the attributes of integrity, respect and passion they bring to the position of general manager of the Saginaw Spirit.”

Bowman expressed similar feelings about Edwards.

“If he brings the same leadership qualities and work ethic to the Saginaw Spirit as be brought to the Buffalo Sabres as my goalie, nobody in the OHL will outwork him," Bowman said. "Saginaw has landed a very high quality individual as their new GM. I wish both Don and my friends at the Saginaw Spirit well as they work to bring a championship to Saginaw.”

Sunday, July 08, 2007

IceDiggers announce 2007-2008 schedule


For the second straight season, the Alpena IceDiggers will start the year at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn.

The IceDiggers, coming off their first NAHL playoff appearance in franchise history, begin the 2007-08 season at the league showcase against Wichita Falls, the league announced. Alpena also faces Southern Minnesota, Fargo-Moorhead and North Iowa at the four-day showcase, a popular event with college and professional scouts that brings each of the NAHL’s teams together for a weekend chock-full of action.

“With the amount of kids we moved on and the league moved on, it’s pretty good,” Alpena head coach Kenny Miller said of opening the year at the showcase.

Alpena’s 58-game schedule includes 25 games at Northern Lights Arena, beginning with the team’s home opener against Traverse City on Sept. 28.

The IceDiggers schedule is front-loaded with home games. Of Alpena’s 25 home dates, 15 are before the end of the calendar year. Alpena plays only five home games in February and March, but Miller said that was by design with hopes that an inexperienced Alpena team can build confidence in front of the home fans at Northern Lights Arena in the early going.

“We’re going to be a young team,” he said. “We have to learn to win as a team. We’re loaded up front with a lot of home games, but that was done on purpose. Some dates we got to choose when we were going to play and some dates we were forced into.”

The biggest home date of the schedule, according to Miller, is a New Year’s Eve contest with the Traverse City North Stars. Alpena also played on New Year’s Eve last season and was able to secure that date again.

“That was our No. 1 date,” Miller said. “We wanted that one the most.”

While Alpena has two stretches early on where they host four consecutive games, the IceDiggers finish the year with five games on the road. The IceDiggers face division rivals Traverse City and Marquette 14 times each, the most of any teams. Also featured on the schedule is defending NAHL champion St. Louis, which moved to the North Division from the South to accomodate the league’s addition of Kenai River, which takes the Bandits spot in the South Division.

“We’ve got a tough division,” said Miller. “Both of the teams (St. Louis and Mahoning Valley) who played in the championship game are in our division. It’s going to be tough for us.”

St. Louis won’t be visiting Alpena, however. An unbalanced division schedule has Alpena facing the Bandits four times — with Alpena’s two “home” games versus St. Louis coming at the North Division Showcase at Mahoning Valley in late January. Alpena also plays USA twice during that weekend.

Notes: Alpena dealt forward Marco Ruggeri to Fairbanks for forward Chris Perko, who had one assist and 57 penalty minutes in 31 games with Fairbanks last season. Ruggeri had five goals and 14 points for Alpena in 2006-07.

"Chris will add a physical element to our lineup, as well as leadership," Miller said. "We are very excited about having him on our side."

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ferguson not Saginaw GM after all

The Saginaw Spirit announced that general manager candidate Sheldon Ferguson has withdrawn his intention to join the club.

“Regretfully, for personal reasons I am unable to accept the responsibilities of general manager with the Saginaw Spirit at this time," said Ferguson.

Spirit majority owner Dick Garber said “We are disappointed that Sheldon will not be joining our organization, but respect his decision and wish him the best. He understood the commitment and the amount of work involved and felt he couldn't meet those responsibilities at this time.”

Finalists for the position will return over the weekend and the process will continue. Plans for the welcome reception for the new general manager have been postponed and will be rescheduled once the position is filled.

Saginaw signs first-rounder Pachis

The Saginaw Spirit have announced the signing of forward Daniel Pachis.

Pachis was drafted by the Spirit in the first round, 16th overall, of the 2007 OHL Priority Selection. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to welcome Daniel and his family to the Saginaw Spirit,” stated Spirit general manager Sheldon Ferguson. “We look forward to Daniel joining all Spirit prospects at our mini-camp in early August.”

Pachis played his minor hockey with the Whitby Wildcats of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association. Last season, Pachis scored 50 goals and added 31 assists for 81 points.

The 1991-born Pachis is a native of Whitby, Ontario, and is currently listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ann Arbor's Cole still off to Notre Dame

By Paul Svoboda
Belleville Intelligencer

NHL first-round draft pick Ian Cole will be wearing the blue and gold of Notre Dame next season - not the black, gold and red of the Belleville Bulls.

On Friday, Bulls general manager and head coach George Burnett said the status of Cole, an Ann Arbor native, has not changed since he was chosen 18th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the NHL draft in Columbus. The 6-foot-1, 211-pound American defenseman was nabbed by the Bulls in the 12th round of the 2005 OHL draft (228th overall), but is committed to playing NCAA Division I college hockey at Notre Dame starting in September.

"He has had plans to go there for a number of years," said Burnett. "Ian and his family have been very open to keeping the lines of communication open, but we've been very aware they preferred the NCAA route."

The Bulls selected Cole two years ago from the Plymouth-based Victory Honda major midgets where he had 15 goals and 40 points in 60 games. Born in 1989, the left-shooting blueliner spent last season with the U.S. Under-18 team and compiled 4-16--20 scoring totals in 49 games.

Alpena season tickets on sale now

Alpena IceDiggers season tickets are now on sale. Season ticket holders from the 2006-07 season will receive their ticket information by mail. New season ticket holders can receive information at the IceDiggers office.

IceDiggers fans can purchase an adult season ticket for just $215 for all 25 home games. Seniors (62+) and students (13-17) tickets are $165. The IceDiggers have added a season ticket to kids (12-under) for just $125.

"We are looking forward to the upcoming season and hope that all our season ticket holders are also excited about the season ahead," Alpena coach-GM Kenny Miller said. "Without the support of our great fans, IceDiggers hockey would not be possible."

The IceDiggers are also selling family packs for $600. The package includes two adult tickets and two student/kids tickets for every home game. Also on sale are flex packs where fans can purchase tickets for any 10 games during the regular season.

"Alpena IceDiggers hockey is a family event and for us to be able to put a family pack as well as a flex pack for fans that can not attend every game is just one added bonus for our fans," added Miller.

Season ticket holders that purchased playoff ticket packages last season will be credited for unused tickets from last year's NAHL playoffs.

In order to receive these low prices, fans must purchase their tickets with a 50 percent deposit by July 25.

Single game day ticket prices for the 2007-2008 season will be $10 for adults and $8 for seniors (62+) and students (13-17). Kids 12-under will be admitted for just $5.

North Stars unveil '07-08 schedule

When the Traverse City North Stars face off against the rival Alpena IceDiggers at Centre ICE arena on Saturday, Sept. 29 for the 2007-08 home opener, it will mark the end of the team’s longest stretch away from home.

The Stars open their third season at the North American Hockey League Showcase in suburban Minneapolis on Sept. 19, where they’ll play four games, followed by a fifth road contest on Sept. 28 at Alpena.

The North Stars will play its traditional holiday home contest on Nov. 21 – Thanksgiving Eve – against the IceDiggers, and will visit Alpena for the annual New Year’s Eve clash at Northern Lights Arena.

The schedule does feature single weekends off in October, November, February, and March, but two jam-packed periods in December and January are also on the docket. From Dec. 14-31 (18 days), the Stars will play eight games, while a 12-day stretch from Jan. 18-29 will feature a grueling eight-game run.

“Those are the really tough stretches of our schedule and it will necessitate managing our practices, players, and lineups,” admitted first-year Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “We’ll just have to be cognizant of making sure we stay as fresh as we can. We know exactly what lies ahead of us now that the schedule is out, and we’ll prepare accordingly.”

While the North Stars will unveil their all-new home and away jerseys in late August or early September, Palumbo says he looks forward to some special dates to sport the club’s new third jersey as well.

“Those holiday games are always fun, and they draw well for both us and Alpena,” he explained. “It also gives some people who may not be residents of the area a chance to come out and see North Stars hockey. It’s also a chance to get our alternate jerseys on as well.”

The NAHL officially released the 2007-08 schedule on Wednesday, which marks the 32nd season of the oldest junior hockey league in the nation.

"We're looking forward to another exciting, competitive year," said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. "Traditionally, there's great parity in our league and we're expecting more of the same this year."

The expansion Kenai River (Ak.) Brown Bears necessitated a minor divisional realignment, which put the defending Robertson Cup champion St. Louis Bandits into the North Division with TC, Alpena, Mahoning Valley, Marquette and the Ann Arbor-based U.S. National Team Development Program.

Traverse City’s home slate includes a pair of Sunday matinees (Oct. 7 vs. Marquette and Nov. 18), a Tuesday affair (Mar. 4 vs. Team USA-17), and a four-game stint at the NAHL North Division Showcase, hosted by Mahoning Valley (Jan. 18-21). The Stars welcome in St. Louis from Mar. 21-22 before closing out the regular season Mar. 28-29 in Marquette.

“It’s a good schedule, it keeps us busy at times and gives us a breather at other times,” said Palumbo, who will select his first roster from the 50 or so players who were invited to the Stars’ Aug. 3-5 training camp. “With what we’ve seen and what we have coming to the August camp, I think we’re going to be a hard-working, exciting team. We’ve worked hard to improve defensively, and based on what we’ve seen so far, I like the skill, too. We’re excited about this schedule and this season.”

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ferguson takes over as Saginaw's GM

The Saginaw Spirit is pleased to announce the addition of Sheldon Ferguson to its staff as the team's general manager.

Ferguson comes to mid-Michigan after serving 12 seasons on the hockey staff of the NHL's 2005-06 Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes as the right-hand man to Carolina's GM and former OHL GM Jimmy Rutherford.

“Sheldon is regarded as one of the top hockey people in the game,” said Spirit owner Dick Garber. “We are excited about him bringing his championship experience to our program and our community.”

“We welcome a Stanley Cup champion, a three-time gold medalist and a man with strong family values to mid-Michigan and to the Saginaw Spirit,” said Spirit president Craig Goslin. “I am very confident that he will surround himself with the best coaching staff that is available in the game. Sheldon and his wife, Dorie, will be welcome additions to our program and to our mid-Michigan community.

"Ferguson has been a strong candidate since the very beginning of our search,” Goslin added. “He is a tireless worker and is one of the most respected hockey scouts in the game. Countless respected NHL references tell us that Sheldon has a top eye for analyzing a player's potential. Dick Garber and I are looking forward to having Sheldon's talent for the Saginaw Spirit, with the development of premier hockey prospects on the ice, and off the ice, as he works with his coaching and scouting staffs to mold the young men that play for the Spirit into successful people.”

“I would like to thank Jim Rutherford and the Carolina Hurricanes for a wonderful 12 years with the Hurricanes' organization,” said Ferguson. “It is with difficulty that I leave behind the great people that I worked with in Carolina, but I am looking forward with excitement to the new opportunities that are ahead working with Dick Garber, Craig Goslin and the entire Saginaw Spirit organization. My family and I are anxious to get settled in the beautiful Saginaw area and to become a part of the community. Our first order of business will be to get a committed and dedicated coaching staff in place and to get to know the players who will be the nucleus of the Saginaw Spirit for 2007-2008."

A graduate of Northeastern University, Ferguson spent two seasons as an assistant coach in the WHL, six seasons as a scout for the Quebec Nordiques and three seasons as the general manager and coach for the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds.

Ferguson served two very successful seasons as the Director of Central Scouting for the entire OHL. He then was offered the distinct honor of serving as the Director of Scouting for the Canadian National Junior Team for four seasons. During those four seasons, the Canadian National Junior Team won three consecutive gold medals (1993-1995).

Ferguson currently resides in Kitchener, Ontario with his wife Dorie. He has two children in daughter, Kelly, and son, Troy (a former Plymouth Whalers' draft pick and Michigan State Spartan), who soon will receive his doctorate degree from Michigan State University.

Sheldon and Dorie will be relocating to mid-Michigan during the next few months.

Under Ferguson's direction and leadership, the Carolina Hurricanes have drafted the players that formed the nucleus of the 2005-06 Stanley Cup champions. Over the past eight seasons, as Director of Player Personnel and Director of Amateur Scouting, he guided the Hurricanes to draft Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Cam Ward and Andrew Ladd. Ferguson also drafted NHL standout defenseman Chris Pronger. The past eight seasons, Ferguson has been responsible for coordinating the Hurricane's NHL Entry Draft, guiding the team to select other top notch players while assisting to balance the chemistry of the club as the talented young draft choices mix with returning veterans.

Carolina's 2006 championship marked the first Stanley Cup of Ferguson's career.

Ontario Hockey League commissioner David Branch has extended a welcome to Ferguson as well.

"On behalf of the Ontario Hockey League, I congratulate the Saginaw Spirit in acquiring one of the true leaders and one of the premier scouts within the entire hockey industry, Mr. Sheldon Ferguson, as their team's new general manager,” Branch said. “Sheldon Ferguson's presence in our league adds tremendous credibility to both the quality of the OHL and the Saginaw Spirit franchise. Sheldon's career within the NHL as well, as the CHL, has been punctuated with success at every level. I am confident that his dedication, work ethic, talent, professionalism and winning habits will continue to raise the level of success of the Spirit organization."