Spirit shows in Porco, Baber

Randy Russon
April 8, 2017

Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League showed a shine for a pair of forwards from Sault Ste. Marie today in spending high draft picks on forwards Nick Porco and Camaryn Baber.

A plum left winger, Porco was picked by Saginaw in the first round, fourth overall, at today’s OHL minor midget draft.

Leaving his Soo home, Porco headed south to play at the minor midget level for the Vaughan Kings of the Greater Toronto Hockey League this past season.

In 33 regular-season games for Vaughan, Porco produced 22 goals, 19 assists, 41 points and was named GTHL minor midget player of the year.

After taking Porco with its top pick, Saginaw then snagged the hard-skating, highly-skilled Baber in third round, 57th overall.

Baber became the first player from the Northern Ontario Hockey Association to be drafted today.

The all-purpose right winger starred with the Soo Greyhounds of the Great North Midget Hockey League during the 2016-2017 season.

The speedy Baber netted 32 goals, 30 assists, 62 points in 32 regular-season games — while racking up 99 minutes in penalties. He then added 5 goals, 2 assists, 7 points in 6 playoff contests.

For his efforts, Baber was named NOHA minor midget player of the year. He played for Team NOHA at last month’s OHL Cup tournament.

His dad, Brad Baber, is a former OHL right winger who played four seasons with the Soo Greyhounds and was a member of their 1993 Memorial Cup championship team after being a seventh-round pick at the 1991 OHL draft.

Saginaw general manager Dave Drinkill gave his thoughts to HockeyNewsNorth.com on being in the position to draft Porco in the first round.

“As an organization we are very excited to have been able to draft Nicholas Porco,” Drinkill began. “He is a player we have targeted for a long time and has all the tools we want in a first round pick. His size, speed, skill and skating ability are second to none and we believe the ceiling is very high with him.

“Nicholas’s drive and passion to grow his game is something you can’t teach and speaks to his character. We can’t wait to see him on the ice here in Saginaw.”

Drinkill said Baber was simply too good to pass up on in the third round.

“Baber is an offensive player who plays a smart game and as an organization we’re extremely happy to have been able to draft him,” Drinkill began. “Camaryn’s knack for scoring and finding the score sheet on a regular basis is very hard to ignore.

“He was player of the year in the north for a reason and it’s the second year in a row we have had a player win the award. (Saginaw took 2015-2016 NOHA player-of-the-year, centre Damien Giroux in the second round of last year’s draft.)

“It will be a fun time at development camp when we get to see Camaryn on the ice with our other picks from this year,” Drinkill concluded.

From his end, Baber said he is “happy and ready to go” to Saginaw.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he told HockeyNewsNorth.com. “I am feeling really good about this.”

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