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Outwater commits to Battalion

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Owen Outwater has signed a standard player’s agreement, which includes an education package, with the North Bay Battalion, the Ontario Hockey League club announced Monday.

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Centre Outwater was the Battalion’s first-round pick, 11th overall, in the OHL Priority Selection conducted via the internet on June 4.

A left shot who turned 16 on Jan. 4, he scored 34 goals and earned 32 assists for 66 points in 37 games in the 2019-20 campaign, the last before the coronavirus pandemic essentially eliminated last season. The six-foot-three, 170-pound resident of Orleans, Ont., was one of five Oakville Rangers U16 members chosen in the first round.

“I couldn’t be more excited about where I ended up,” Outwater said during a weekend visit to the Gateway of the North. “North Bay’s a great place to play, and I’m really excited for the future.”

Battalion general manager Adam Dennis, who said immediately after Outwater was selected that the Battalion had hoped he might still be available in the 11th spot, noted that he was an outstanding interview in the vetting process.

“Owen is a fine young man from a great family,” said Dennis. “He’s committed to putting in the work required to be an excellent Battalion player, and we’re thrilled to help him in his development.”

Outwater, who said he’s on the ice and in the gym every day, acknowledged that the winter without a full schedule of games was difficult.

“I haven’t played a lot this year, but when I did get to play I think I showed well.”

He said he looks forward to making a contribution as a rookie in the 2021-22 season, which the OHL has said is to start Oct. 7, two weeks later than usual.

“I want to come in and make an impact right away. I’m able to play in front of the net pretty well and in the corners.”

With the 2020-21 OHL season lost to the pandemic, Outwater will be one of two first-round picks making his Battalion debut this fall. Defenceman Ty Nelson was taken first overall last year from the Toronto Jr. Canadiens.

Dennis said that training camp, currently slated to open Sept. 4, will feature 55-60 participants because of the double cohort of newcomers. Camp usually numbers about 45 skaters and goaltenders.

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