Sting pitching prospects on Sarnia

By Paul Owen, The Observer

Of the fewer than 50 players they’ll have at their August training camp, the Sarnia Sting expect a dozen of them to be picks from this year’s OHL Priority Draft — if they can lure them all here.

The Sting have signed their top three picks from the April draft, forwards Brett Hargrave, Alexandre Renaud and Jordan Addesi, but things are less certain for some of the other prospects, especially Americans Josh Jacobs, Cam Ashley and Marc Audet.

“We’re hoping to get all 12 at camp. You don’t know 100% until they actually get here,” said head coach and general manager Jacques Beaulieu.

Beaulieu spends the summer bringing players to town to pitch them on the strength of the facilities and a program that has developed two of the past five first overall picks in the NHL.

“The first thing we try to do is arrange a visit to Sarnia and show them our program, show them what we have to offer, show them our facility and basically go through our program with them and see if we can entice them that way,” he explained.

“Our facility is good. We have a great fitness centre, we have a players’ lounge, our dressing room is being updated this year to a better quality.”

Jacobs, a fourth round pick in this year’s draft, appears to be an especially difficult sign between his NCAA commitment to Michigan State and a signed tender with the Indiana Ice in the USHL. However, Beaulieu still has hopes of bringing him into the fold.

“We’re still working on him. Those are just verbal agreements and can be broken,” he said.

Beaulieu is also trying to confirm that Nikolai Goldobin, the team’s first round pick in the 2012 CHL Import Draft, will join the Sting this season. Goldobin was the 8th overall pick in the KHL’s junior draft this year, but Beaulieu believes he’ll be in Sarnia this season.

“It looks good. If I was a betting man, I would bet on him attending camp and being a Sarnia Sting.”

Beaulieu also noted that the team is pursuing former draft picks who have yet to commit to the OHL, though he wouldn’t name names. Last year, the team drew Reid Boucher and Connor Murphy away from the NCAA.

“We’re trying to execute all our options with the last couple of drafts we’ve had. We’re still working on some kids with an open communication and just trying to get them over here for a visit,” he said.

The Sting hold the rights to USHL players such as Bryan Moore, University of Michigan commits Tyler Motte and Alex Talcott and promising American defenceman Michael Downing, who was recently named a member of the United States under-18 team that will compete in this summer’s Ivan Hlinka tournament. There he’ll be a teammate of Sting forward Anthony DeAngelo.

In April, the Sting signed goaltender Brodie Barrick, a 2010 draft pick from Welland, Ont.

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