In his first season as a Junior Senator, forward Conor Smart showed he can play bigger than his 5-9 frame might indicate. As a result, even more is expected of the 19-year-old this year.
Prior to the 2017-18 season, Head Coach & GM Martin Dagenais obtained Smart from the OJHL’s Orangeville Flyers. The left-shooting winger quickly earned a place in the Ottawa lineup and played an important role in his team’s run to the Bogart and Fred Page Cup championships.
In 58 games, Smart tallied 13 goals, including a pair of game-winners, as well as 18 assists. The 20-year old earned a spot on the penalty kills, where he scored twice, and also saw some power-play time.
In 13 CCHL playoff games, he added three more goals and three assists and notched a game-winner against the Brockville Braves in game four of the semifinals. He also scored the difference-maker in a shootout against Collège Français de Longueuil that put the Junior Senators in the championship game of the Fred Page Cup.
“Last year our team had unbelievable skill and I really learned a lot from guys like Nick Lalonde and Owen Guy,” Smart said. “It was a great experience getting to the RBC Cup and I think some of the confidence we got will carry over into this year.”
This time around the 160-pounder who hails from Keswick, Ontario, will play an even more prominent role with plenty of ice time as a top-six forward, while also serving as an alternate captain.
“Now I’m more of a leader and one of the older guys on the team so other guys will be looking to me,” he said. “It’s important for me to kind of take the younger guys under my wing and show them the way to play OJS hockey. That means working hard every shift and in every practice. I want to lead by example not just words.”
That’s precisely what Dagenais wants to hear.
“With his speed and energy, Conor will be ask to provide more offense this year,” the Head Coach and GM said. “We hope the experience he gained last season will help him become an elite forward in this league. He’s a good kid who wants to do well, and he’s willing to work for it, so I’m sure he’ll find a way to become a go-to guy for us.”
Smart began his junior career with the OJHL’s Oakville Blades where he played in three games during the 2015-16 season before moving on to the Orangeville Flyers for 2016-17. He won a place in the lineup, appearing in 54 games, posting 14 goals to go along with 15 assists.
Following that season, Dagenais acquired the youngster, who was pleased with the move to Ottawa, which enabled him to billet with his grandparents and begin taking classes on a part-time basis at Carleton University. His parents, Francine and Ron, are also frequent visitors. Ultimately Smart’s goal is to continue his playing career with an NCAA Division I school or a Canadian university.
“It’s a good situation for me here,” Smart said. “I really like Ottawa.”