By David Fleet
The Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League are top dogs this season thanks in part to an Ortonville native.
Ben Gleason, 20, a 6-foot-1 inch and 180-pounds defenseman played some key minutes following a 5-4 home ice win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in Game 6 of the Rogers OHL Championship Series on May 13. The Bulldogs advance to the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Regina, Saskatchewan where they’ll open the tournament against the host Regina Pats at 8 p.m., May 18.
“We had a hard fought season,” said Gleason in a phone call to The Citizen on Tuesday. “A lot of people doubted us, but we became a hot team in the playoffs. It all just kept going our way.:
Gleason was drafted by the London Knights as the 36th draft pick overall in the second round of Ontario Hockey League’s 2014 Priority Selection. The OHL is part 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. In late April 2014 Gleason joined the Knights in London, about two hours from Ortonville, where he resided with a billet family while attending the Blyth Academy. He graduated high school this spring. On Oct. 7, 2015 Gleason was acquired and traded to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
“I went from 5 minutes per game with London to 25 minutes a game with Hamilton. It was a change, but in the right direction for me.”
Gleason’s path in professional hockey has been very positive so far.
On Sept. 24, 2015, Gleason was among 42 of the 2016 NHL draft-eligible players that participated in the 2015 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects game at the First Niagara Centre in Buffalo, NY. Each year the top U.S. players who are eligible for the upcoming NHL entry draft are selected for the competition.
According to USA Hockey, 26 players that participated in the contest last year went on to be chosen in the 2015 NHL entry draft, including seven first-round selections.
In 2014 Gleason, as a Brandon High School sophomore, was considered one of the top defenseman on a U18 Detroit Honeybaked travel team stocked with talent.