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Local icer drafted by OHL

April 09, 2014 - For the past 13 years Ben Gleason has spent most of his time on skates—hockey scouting departments must have noticed

Brandon Township's Gleason, 16, was recently selected by the London Knights as the 36th draft pick overall in the second round of Ontario Hockey League's 2014 Priority Selection.

A Brandon High School sophomore, Gleason was considered one of the top defensemen on a U18 Detroit Honeybaked travel team stocked with talent. At 6-foot, 2 inches and 162-pounds, he scored a goal and added five assists in 22 games last season in the Honeybaked Midget Majors AAA season which ended last month.

Gleason will now join the OHL—a member of the Canadian Hockey League, a development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and five American states. Many players move on to the National Hockey League after playing in the OHL.

"I kind of figured I was going to get an offer to skate somewhere in the OHL. I should get plenty of ice time," said Gleason after hearing the news. "Four of the six defensemen on the Knights were just drafted by the NHL. They have 13 players from the Knights going to the NHL."

In late April Gleason will join the Knights in London, about two hours from Ortonville, where he will live with a billet family while attending the Blyth Academy.

"It's school from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., then some hockey practice and study," he said. "London is really a hockey town— we have about 10,000 attend the games. It's going to take a few games before I get used to playing in front of that many people. I have to be a smart player and keep my head up."

The London Knights play their home games in Budweiser Gardens, the largest arena in southwestern Ontario.

Gleason's success on the ice comes from a strong hockey family.

Older brother defenseman James Gleason, a 2012 Brandon High graduate is a junior hockey standout for the Philadelphia Little Flyers and Boston Valley Junior Warriors of the Eastern Hockey League. Tim Gleason, James' first cousin, was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2003, was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and in 2013 joined the Toronto Maple Leafs. In addition, in 2006, Gleason played six games for the United States Olympic hockey team.

"I've skated with Tim and I can't keep up with him. He beat me up on the ice," smiles Ben. "He's very regimented from what he eats to his workouts. I even watch how he tapes his stick."

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