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SEVERAL SEA DOGS TO PURSUE PRO OPTIONS

Tuesday, June 28, 2010

SAINT JOHN – A handful of Sea Dogs will be following their hockey dreams through pro contracts and training camp invitations.

Forward Scott Oke was the highest-ranked North American skater on the NHL Central Scouting list (44th) who did not hear his name called during the NHL Entry Draft Friday and Saturday. He did, however, hear from the Dallas Stars shortly after the draft, receiving an invitation to attend the team’s rookie camp next week.

The six-foot-three, 190-pound forward from St-Lambert Quebec had five goals and 10 points in 54 games as a rookie fighting for ice time on the talent-laden MasterCard Memorial Cup champions.

In addition to the good news for the 18-year-old Oke, all three of Saint John’s graduating overage players are exercising pro options.

Michael Kirkpatrick, the team’s all-time leading scorer, has agreed to a two-year deal with St. John’s of the American Hockey League. St. John’s, formerly the Manitoba Moose, will be the affiliate of the new Winnipeg Jets, and Kirkpatrick’s deal includes an invitation to Jets rookie camp in September.

“I’m pretty excited, it’s what I’ve worked for,” said the 21-year-old forward from North Sydney, N.S. “It’s the next step. I have a busy summer ahead of me, getting stronger and getting faster. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to making the best of this opportunity.”

Kirkpatrick had 31 goals, 51 assists and 82 points in 2010-11 to finish with franchise bests of 108 goals, 143 assists and 251 points. His accomplishments include leading the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in playoff scoring with 31 points in 21 games in 2010, and being nominated for the Guy Carbonneau Trophy as the best defensive forward in the QMJHL in 2011.

Meanwhile, goaltender Jacob DeSerres will be attending a development camp with the Phoenix Coyotes next week. DeSerres set team records with a 2.22 goals-against average and four shutouts, winning the Jacques Plante Trophy as the league’s best puckstopper.

“They want to meet me and get to know me and I’ll work with Sean Burke a bit, the goaltending coach,” said the 21-year-old Calgarian. “There’s lots of opportunity in the system. Hopefully something happens when I’m down there.”

Saint John’s other overager, five-year Sea Dog and two-year captain Mike Thomas, also recently inked an AHL deal. Thomas agreed to a one-year deal with the Springfield Falcons, the top affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Thomas, the team’s all-time games playes (288) and penalty minute (470) leader, is attending Columbus development camp as an invitee this week.

Several other Sea Dogs veterans have received invitations to pro camps: Forwards Alexandre Beauregard and Danick Gauthier, both potential overagers for the 2011-12 season, have received invitations to Coyotes rookie camp in September; Defenseman Pierre Durepos, 19, will attend summer and fall camps with the Los Angeles Kings; and defenseman Ian Saab, 19, has been invited to Vancouver Canucks camp in September.

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