Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Whalers sign first-rounder Iafrate

The Plymouth Whalers have announced the signing of 16-year-old defenseman Max Iafrate, who was the Whalers first round pick (15th overall) of the 2010 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, to an OHL contract and education package.

Iafrate, who scored 15 goals with 14 assists for 29 points and 167 penalty minutes in 63 games last season for the Belle Tire U-16s, is the son of former National Hockey League defenseman Al Iafrate. His grandmother, Alice Iafrate, worked for the Compuware organization and the Whalers when they were known as the Compuware Ambassadors and Jr. Red Wings.

The Iafrates have season tickets to the Whalers games, so they are familiar with the organization.

"I worked hard for this. This is where I wanted to go, so it's awesome," Iafrate said. "There’s some real history here with (owner) Mr. (Peter) Karmanos, the fact that (coach-GM Mike) Vellucci played with my dad and my grandmother worked here. My dad has been through this before and it's an advantage having him around so he can teach me."

"We are very excited to have Max as a Plymouth Whaler," Vellucci said. "There's a lot of history with the organization and his family, so it's only fitting that he joined us. I couldn't imagine him in a different jersey, and I know the fans will be excited to watch him play and develop here."

“Max Iafrate’s going to be fun to watch,” said former Peterborough Petes GM and current Phoenix Coyotes scout Jeff Twohey. “To me, he’s a clear comparison to PK Subban (now with the Montreal Canadiens). He’s dynamic with his skating ability and his ability to move up the ice. He’ll get the puck up the ice quickly, he’s a player with high skill and has very good quickness.”

“I like to be an offensive defenseman, who likes to rush the puck," Iafrate said. "I like to play defense too, so I'm an all-around defenseman."

The 6-foot-1 and 200 pound native of Livonia will continue his education as a junior next year at Livonia Stevenson High School.

Iafrate is already involved in the Whalers community efforts this summer and will continue to give back as an instructor during the Whalers summer camps that start in August. Fans can catch their first glimpse of Iafrate and his teammates at the "Clash at the Coliseum" on September 4 when the Whalers take on the Windsor Spitfires during an exhibition game at the Arctic Coliseum in Chelsea.

Iafrate, who will wear No. 34 with the Whalers, will patrol the Compuware Arena blueline for the first time during the Whalers home opener on Saturday, September 25 against the Barrie Colts at 7:05 p.m.

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