Minden teen put to the test by OHL
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | August 4, 2016
Owen Smith’s first trip to Michigan was a memorable one.
The 15-year-old Minden teen, who was the youngest player to be chosen by the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Flint Firebirds during the priority selection in April, attended a weekend-long orientation in the suburb of Grand Blanc at the end of May.
“We toured everywhere,” said Smith in an interview.
Smith, who goes by the nickname Smitty, went with his parents, Craig and Tammy. They met with billet families and he underwent off-ice testing in a high school gym.
“I did bench presses and different types of sprints and long jump. Just to test our off-ice abilities so when we come back we’ll see if we improved or not.”
He bench-pressed 10 reps of 140 lbs.
Smith was happy with his performance. He was relaxed because other players he knows, such as linemate Braydon Leeking, were in his group. The two play together for the Central Ontario Wolves, a Triple A team in Lindsay.
“It takes some stress off,” he said.
A big part of the reason Smith has done so well is because of his workout regime with a local trainer.
“I train three days a week,” he said. “It’s usually an hour per day.”
Smith actually enjoys getting up at 7 a.m. for a workout before he goes to work at Haliburton Timber Mart.
In the coming weeks he intends to get quicker and strengthen his upper body.
He will return to Michigan at the end of August to attend a three-day camp.
At 6’1” and 180 lbs, Smith believes he is at a good size.
He plans on participating in a camp with the Lindsay Muskies this month and will likely book some ice time in Haliburton “to shoot some pucks.”
Smith played minor hockey with the Highland Storm before moving on to the Wolves for his peewee years. He returned to play with the Storm’s Bantam A team in 2013-14 and helped them capture the all-Ontario championship. Last season he played Junior A hockey with the Muskies.
If the Firebirds select him for their opening night roster, he will need to pack up and move to Michigan right away because the regular season starts in September. If not, he will have another opportunity next year as the team has rights to him for two years.
“I’m just going to go in confident and try my best,” he said.
Smith was the team’s 11th pick in the 13th round of the draft.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.