After getting a taste of OHL action in 2019-20, Sudbury native Oliver Smith will be back for a bigger helping come fall.
The Barrie Colts announced on Monday they had signed the 18-year-old winger to a standard player agreement, after another impressive run with the Rayside-Balfour Canadians during a pandemic-shortened 2020-21 NOJHL campaign.
“It is such a pleasure to be a part of a great organization and I could not be happier,” Smith, a ninth-round draft pick in 2019, said in a press release. “Ever since minor hockey, the goal and focus has been on making it to the next level, for me being the OHL. To have finally signed means a lot to me and I can’t wait to get started.”
After spending his U16 year with the Mississauga Rebels of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder returned to his hometown and signed with Rayside for 2019-20, emerging as one of the NOJHL’s better freshman forwards with a 28-goal, 19-assist regular season.
He also dressed for five games with the Colts, recording one goal and one assist.
“I was very privileged to play five games with the team, as it was a great learning experience and a chance to get to know the guys on the team,” Smith said. “One of the things I was able to take away was to keep things simple by making the easy play and not forcing any plays. The second thing I took away from that experience was to make sure that the little things are done right, such as getting the puck out of the defensive zone and getting it in deep. If these are not focused on, it makes the game a little tougher.”
With the 2020-21 OHL season delayed and eventually cancelled, Smith returned to the Canadians and was one of their top point producers, collecting four goals and four assists in only 10 games before the NOJHL also had to shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Oliver had an impressive rookie season with the Rayside-Balfour Canadians in 2019-20,” said Rob Stewart, the Colts’ assistant general manager. “He was one of the top producing 16-year-olds in the NOJHL and he continued that success during limited play this past season. We are excited to add him to our group for 2021-22.”
Smith is the latest in a deep and talented group of 2003-born skaters with ties to the Nickel City who have signed with major-junior clubs.
Zacharie Giroux (Flint), Mitchell Martin (Kitchener), Max McCue (London), Chase Stillman (Sudbury) and Josh Kavanagh (Peterborough), all graduates of the Sudbury Wolves U16 AAA program, have also been inked by OHL clubs, and most played for their respective teams in 2019-20.
The OHL plans to open training camps for 2021-22 during the first week of September and to open the regular season on Oct. 7.