PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Plymouth Whalers General Manager Mark Craig announced today the commitment of 15-year-old center Will Bitten, who was taken by the Whalers in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2014 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
Bitten turns 16 years old on July 10.
"Will's exactly the kind of player we need," said Plymouth Whalers Head Coach Don Elland. "I love the fact that when he doesn't have the puck – in spite of his size - he'll do whatever he can to get it back. He's a very good playmaker. Given time, we think Bitten will become a very good player in the Ontario Hockey League."
Bitten scored 36 goals and 42 assists for 78 points in 29 games as captain of the Ottawa Jr. 67's minor midgets last season. He added five goals with five assists for 10 points in six games last spring in the OHL Cup tournament. He was named Minor Hockey Player of the Year for the Ontario East Minor Hockey League.
In 2012-13, Bitten scored 29 goals with 25 assists for 54 points in 30 games for the Ottawa 67's bantams. In 2011-12, Bitten scored 30 goals with 33 assists for 63 points in 28 games for the Ottawa 67's bantam minors.
After playing in Ottawa, Bitten hoped to taken by his hometown team. But the 67's chose left wing Travis Barron with the third overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection.
"I'm very excited to play for the Whalers," Bitten said in a recent interview. "Plymouth seems like a really good place to play. My goal is to be ready for the NHL Draft in a couple of years. The Whalers will help me to realize my dream."
Central Scouting gives this assessment of Bitten:
"William is an undersized, skilled center that doesn't play like he's 5'8". He is very tenacious and is not afraid to get into the dirty areas of the ice to get the puck or to defend. He is a very smart player with a high hockey IQ. The puck follows him around the ice and he always seems to be in the right spot to grab the loose puck and go with it. William has very good one-on-one moves that have left some defenders looking silly. He is used in every situation by his coaches and does a good job in all of them."
Bitten is part of an athletic family. Parents Doris Piche and Mike Bitten played badminton for the Canadian Olympic team. Doris Piche played is a two-time Canadian Olympian, playing singles and doubles in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona and singles and mixed doubles 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Mike Bitten played singles and doubles for Canada in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Bitten's cousin – Sebastien Piche – skated in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from 2004-09 for Lewiston, Shawinigan and Rouyn-Noranda and played against the Whalers in two games in the 2007 MasterCard Memorial Cup while playing for Lewiston. A free agent, Piche spent time in the Detroit Red Wings' system from 2009-12, playing between Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League and Toledo of the East Coast Hockey League.
Bitten joins a young Whalers team that made the OHL Playoffs last season for the 23rd consecutive year – a current league record. Plymouth brings back six National Hockey League draft choices in 2014-15, including goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and defenseman Josh Wesley (both with Carolina), defenseman Alex Peters (Dallas), right wing Connor Chatham (New Jersey), left wing Matt Mistele (Los Angeles) and center Victor Crus Rydberg (New York Islanders).
After opening the 2014-15 season in London on Fri. Sept. 26, the Whalers host Erie in the home opener on Sat. Sept. 27 at 7:05 pm at Compuware Arena.
Tickets for all Plymouth Whalers games are available by calling the Compuware Arena box office at 734-453-8400.
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