Craig shuffles off to Buffalo
Michael Craig’s latest hockey journey is taking him south of the border.
The St. Catharines native has signed to play with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the Ontario Junior Hockey League after a successful rookie season with the Thorold Blackhawks.
“It’s awesome to have the plan in place and finally be able to follow it this coming season,” said Craig, who tuns 17 next month.
Craig, who was selected by the Niagara IceDogs in the ninth round of the 2018 Ontario Hockey League draft, admitted it was a tough choice to turn down a possible spot with his hometown team.
“The IceDogs have been fantastic. They have offered me every opportunity to be successful in their organization, but for me my goal is to play college hockey and I think that playing for the Jr. Sabres will give me the best opportunity to make that goal a reality.”
Craig said he had to do some serious soul searching.
“It was definitely a hard decision. The IceDogs have been awesome and obviously it would have been a dream come true to play for them. Even thought the OHL is a fantastic league and the IceDogs are a first-class organization, at the end of the day I want play college hockey and I want to make that goal a reality.”
Craig is a mobile defenceman who collected 22 points in 48 games with the Blackhawks last season.
“Playing in Thorold was awesome,” Craig said. “I really enjoyed my time there. The coaches were exceptional and they provided me with the opportunity.
“Playing in Thorold really gave me a taste of good junior hockey. Moving forward and playing in other junior leagues it allows me to be more comfortable and not have to adjust to the style and speed of play. It will allow me to make a quick transition and be able to compete right away.”
Craig had been training at the Jr. Sabres facility in Buffalo.
“I’ve been training over there at the Harborcenter for many years,” he said. “I used to watch the U20 team practice so it’s kind of a natural progression to now be playing for them.”
Craig plans to finish off his high school career at St. Francis while playing for the Jr. Sabres.
“It’s a big year and I have to be prepared to make the most of it on and off the ice. I’m ready and I think it’s going to be a fun year,” he said.
Craig is working out at Iron Performance Centre in St. Catharines in an attempt to add some muscle to his 5-foot-8 frame.
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