Spirit name Mitchell Stephens captain

Saginaw Spirit
Aaron Bell/OHL Images

SAGINAW, Mich. – On Tuesday, head coach Spencer Carbery named the captains of the 2016-17 Saginaw Spirit Hockey Club. Fourth-year Spirit player and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Mitchell Stephens has been named captain, while veterans Kris Bennett, C.J. Garcia, and Keaton Middleton will serve as alternate captains.

“We feel that our team has a strong leadership core and that Mitchell will do a great job leading that group. His skill and ability speaks for itself but what I’ve really enjoyed observing is his incredible competiveness to be the best and a desire to win that I want all our players to possess.” said Carbery on electing the Peterborough, Ontario native to the captaincy.

Stephens, 19, has had a very successful junior career thus far, including internationally, where he was a gold medal winner at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Tournament and a bronze medal winner at the Under-18 World Juniors in 2015. Stephens also competed in the 2016 World Junior Championship, where he scored a goal and an assist for Canada.

In 2015, the Tampa Bay Lightning made Stephens their second round pick, 33rd overall. The 5’11, 190 pound center has 51 goals and 56 assists in his three-year OHL career.

The 2013 first round pick of the Spirit had his 2015-16 season hampered by a broken foot, forcing him out of the lineup for nearly two months. Stephens responded like a champion scoring 38 points in 39 games, leading the Spirit to their 11th consecutive playoff berth.

Head coach Spencer Carbery also named Kris Bennett, C.J. Garcia, and Keaton Middleton alternate captains for the 2016-17 season, Tuesday.

Bennett, 20, enters his fifth year with the Spirit during the ’16-17 campaign. The third round pick of the Spirit in 2012 has grown into more of a scoring role as his career has progressed, notching a career-high 24 goals last season. Bennett’s breakout season earned him an invitation to Nashville Predators prospect camp this summer.

Overage defenseman C.J. Garcia enters his fifth year in the OHL and first with the Saginaw Spirit in ’16-17. Garcia is coming off of a career-high in goals and assists while captaining the Guelph Storm last season. The Pickering, Ontario native scored his first goal as a Spirit on October 1st against Ottawa.

Third-year defenseman Keaton Middleton earns a letter on this year’s Spirit squad after being taken 101st overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2016 NHL Draft. The bruising 6’5, 235 pound rearguard just finished his first NHL training camp and is looking forward to his new leadership role with the hockey club.

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