Having grown up watching his hometown Raiders play on a regular basis, Prince Albert’s Alex Ozar is one step closer to making it to the Western Hockey League.
The 16-year-old, who is a defenceman and the captain for the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, is now a signed prospect of the Saskatoon Blades after he inked a standard player agreement with the team on Thursday.
“When I was a kid, my family would come to Raider games at the Art Hauser Centre on a regular basis,” Ozar said. “As you grow older, you really start to see just what it takes in order to make it to the WHL.
“It’s pretty exciting to sign a contract with the Blades. It’s what you work towards through minor hockey and I’m just glad that they gave me an opportunity.”
A fifth round pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, Ozar believes that his play during the team’s training camp last summer helped to put him on the Blades’ radar.
“I was able to limit my mistakes compared to the previous year and I was working hard the whole time,” Ozar said. “From what the Blades told me, they kept a close eye on me after the camp and they liked what they saw in the first half to offer me a contract.”
“Alex is able to quickly process the game and has the ability to execute plays at a high pace in all situations,” Blades director of scouting Dan Tencer added in a statement Thursday. “His mobility and play with the puck are both significant assets for him and he has shown substantial development over the last season and a half.”
After posting 31 points in 44 games in his rookie campaign, Ozar showing no signs of a sophomore slump.
He has five goals and 16 assists in 26 contests ahead of the Mintos’ meeting with the Moose Jaw Generals at the Art Hauser Centre Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
“I feel like I’ve been able to improve on everything this year,” Ozar said.
“As a second year player in Midget AAA, I’m able to see the game differently and things have slowed down quite a bit compared to last season.”
Like any player looking to make the jump to major junior, Ozar is focusing on getting bigger and stronger ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.
“The WHL is a big league with lots of strong guys,” said Ozar, who stands at 6’0″ and weighs 160 lbs.
“Being a rookie, you are going to be spending a lot of time in the weight room in the summer and putting in the work in order to be successful right away.