OTTAWA – The Ottawa Jr. Senators are proud to announce the signing of 17 year old forward Thomas Freel. An Ottawa native, Freel played for the Ottawa Jr. Canadians last season. He scored 24 goals, and registered 35 assists for a total of 59 points in only 44 games, good enough to earn both the Rookie of the Year and Top Prospect award in the CCHL2.
Freel was drafted by the Junior Senators out of the Ottawa Sting AA organization. That year, his hard work and perseverance helped him earn a spot on the Senators’ Midget AAA team. He hasn’t looked back since.
“Finally getting a chance to be a full-time member of the Ottawa Jr. Senators means a lot to me, and it is very special. Since being drafted by OJS in the Bantam draft three years ago, my goal has been to play for the big club. I’ve been a member of the Midget AAA team and a call up for the Junior A team, and have witnessed the success they’ve had, so I’m looking forward to hopefully adding to that. Signing with this organization is an amazing feeling that makes me realize that the hours put in on the ice and in the gym are paying off. It’s great to be a permanent member of OJS but what I really am striving for is to be a go to player on this team, someone that the coach can count on in any situation.”
Along the way, Freel had the full support of his parents who were always behind him, but he also feels that the coaching he has received in the past three years played a big part in his development.
“I have been very fortunate to have had two very supportive parents who are always motivating and helping me to strive for more. Also, I was lucky to have had demanding coaches throughout my minor hockey career, from Scott Hamilton to Steve Malette. However, since joining the OJS organization three years ago, four coaches have had particularly strong influences on the way I have developed as a hockey player. From Chris Kushneriuk and Ryan Garlock who I first had as CDHL coaches and continue to work with, to Tasso Vasilas and the opportunity he gave me this year at the CCHL2 level, and to Stuart Battrick and the many extra hours he gave to make me a better player during my first year of junior hockey.”
The young forward knows that the caliber of play will be different than what he’s used to in the CCHL2. However, he doesn’t think it will take him much time to adjust since he’s already played over 20 games at the CCHL level and seen action at both the Fred Page Cup and at the National Junior A Championship where the pace of play is even faster than what we see in the CCHL playoffs.
“I think my experiences at the Fred Page Cup and National Junior A Championship can help me transition to the CCHL. I was fortunate enough to play against some of the best junior players in the country and I think that will help me adjust to the speed at the Junior A level. This experience also allowed me to get to know some of the players who are returning next season, which will make the adjustment to a new team that much easier.”
For now, Freel’s goal is pretty simple. He wants to have another crack at a National Junior A Championship. In the long run, NCAA hockey is definitely where he wants to end up. “I had a great experience this year going to the Fred Page Cup in Amherst and the National Junior A Championship in Brooks, therefore this year I’d love to go again.”