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COMMITMENT ALERT | Thomas Freel commits to NCAA DI University of Maine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa, ON – The Ottawa Jr. Senators are very proud to announce the commitment of team captain, Thomas Freel to NCAA Division I University of Maine (Orono, ME) for the 2022-23 season.

Freel, 20, joined the OJS organization back in 2016, selecting him in the eighth round of the 2016 CCHL Bantam Protect Draft. Under the wing of Head Coach Steve Malette for two seasons, Freel blossomed into a key contributor on the u18 squad, scoring 70 points (34G/36A) in 80 games.

“I am thrilled to be taking the next steps in my hockey career as a Black Bear,” highlighted Thomas Freel. “I couldn’t be more grateful to the players and staff at OJC, Campbellton Tigers, but most of all OJS for pushing me to be ready for this opportunity. “Since I was taken late by OJS in the bantam draft, my dream has been to play Division 1 hockey. To be able to get an education and to play at an elite level is what most junior hockey players are pushing for.”

Following two productive seasons in u18, Freel made the jump to the Ottawa Jr. Canadians of the CCHL2 (now EOJHL), earning the league’s Top Prospect and Top Rookie awards. That year, he appeared in 11 games with the Jr. Senators, including a combined five games at both the Fred Page Cup and National Jr. A Championship.

“The entire Ottawa Junior Senators organization is beyond excited for Thomas and his family as he will continue his hockey and academic journey at the University of Maine next fall,” said General Manager Jamie Mayo. ” Thomas has trusted the process beginning back with our U-18 AAA program, continuing to today as our Team Captain. 

He has put in hours and hours on and off the ice to become the complete player that he is and we are happy that he has been rewarded for his dedication. 

Maine is getting a quality player on the ice and most certainly an individual who will excel in the classroom and become a pillar in the school community.”

The Ottawa native signed a Standard Player Agreement with OJS in the summer of 2019 and instantly became a fixture in the locker room under leaders Owen Cole and Bailey Brant.

Freel led OJS in goals during his first full CCHL season, scoring 26 times in 61 games, turning into one of the CCHL’s top offensive threats. He was named to the league’s Academic All-Star Team for his hard work in the classroom, balancing the workload as a student-athlete.

During an off-and-on 2020-2021 CCHL schedule, Freel was granted the opportunity to continue his development with the Maritime Hockey League’s Campbellton Tigers. In 10 games, Freel put up eight goals and five assists, before returning to OJS f0r his final junior season.

Named team captain in September, Freel guided the team to the Cottage Cup pre-season tournament title in Collingwood, setting the culture and tone for this season, which has continued to get better.

Freel currently sits third in league scoring with a league-leading 23 goals and 21 assists, for 44 points in 32 games. He also holds the second-longest point streak this season at 11 games, putting up 13 goals and nine assists, which ran from November 17-February 9.

“I’ve been lucky to be part of a high IQ hockey organization for the last 6 years and to play under some great coaches,” added Freel. “I think OJS’s emphasis on details and high-intensity hockey is what put me in a position to be attractive to a school like Maine and the new coaching staff there.”

The two-way forward will join former OJS defenceman Adrien Bisson (2016-2019) at the University of Maine next season before current d-man Bodie Nobes joins the team for the 2023-2024 season.

Freel becomes the fourth member of the 2021-22 Junior Senators to commit to an NCAA program, joining Philippe Jacques (RIT), Bodie Nobes (Maine), and Simon Isabelle (RIT).

Stay up to date with OJS news on the team’s social media platforms.

Photos and Graphic credit: Davide Disipio and Nathan Pavao

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