TORONTO -- Defenseman Patrick Sieloff of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program on Monday turned down a scholarship offer to Miami University of Ohio and instead will play for the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires in 2012-13.
"It came down to the fact I wanted to play in the NHL and I feel like this is the fastest route," Sieloff told NHL.com. "I feel like the school part would get in the way a little bit because school is a little hard for me. I felt like school will always be there but hockey won't. There's going to be a point in time when hockey ends, whether we like it or not. I feel like I want to make the best of this for as long as I can go, and am looking forward and really excited to play in Windsor."
Sieloff, who served as an alternate captain of the Under-18 U.S. National Team that won its fourth straight gold medal at the World Championship in April, admitted it was a hard decision but one he felt would benefit him down the road.
"It wasn't easy and I had nothing against Miami … they have a great program and they have some good guys coming in," Sieloff said. "I just want to focus on hockey right now. It's what I love doing and I just wanted that. At the end of the day, I just wanted to do what was best for me and felt like this was the best decision."
Sieloff spent two seasons in the NTDP program. The Spitfires acquired Sieloff's rights in November from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds along with defenseman Mackenzie Braid. Braid was later traded to Sudbury, four second-round picks and a pair of third-round picks for former USNTDP goalie Jack Campbell.
Sieloff, ranked No. 31 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of top draft-eligible North American skaters, said he'll never forget the lessons learned in Ann Arbour for the NTDP.
"I think they put you in situations you'll never face in your life, in order to make you stronger," he said. "It's almost like a business and it's taught me a lot about being a person and gaining leadership qualities. You learn how to accept the role they want you to do, and you have to buy into that role otherwise you won't be there. I feel like I've progressed as a player."
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