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Prince pointing toward bigger future with Senators

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Shane Prince, who signed his first Senators contract on Canada Day, helped Team Orange hoist the hardware at the 3-on-3 tournament that closed out Sens development camp on Monday (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).

He's a young American more accustomed to celebrating the Fourth of July.

But Shane Prince won't soon forget this Canada Day weekend.

As Canadians across the nation's capital toasted their country's 145th birthday, the 19-year-old Prince put his name to his first contract with the Ottawa Senators. It's a three-year entry level deal that sets the native of Spencerport, N.Y., on course to begin his pro hockey career.

"It’s really exciting," Prince said after helping Team Orange claim the coveted top honours in today's 3-on-3 tournament at the Bell Sensplex that put the capper on Sens development camp for another year. "I kind of had an idea it was coming but to (officially) do that ... it’s a huge milestone in my career and now I’ve got some work ahead of me to get to where I want to be.

"This is something I've wanted probably since I ever since I first stepped on the ice on skates. You think about making it to the NHL and signing your first contract is your first step toward getting there. It was an unbelievable experience yesterday and very exciting."

For Prince, the next step is likely to come with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League. After four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League — including back-to-back prolific campaigns offensively with the Ottawa 67's — he believes it's time to take it to the next level.

"It works out really well," said Prince, who turns 20 in December. "Binghamton is about a two-hour drive away from my house, so I'm sure my family will make that drive a lot to watch my games next year. It's definitely a good situation.

"I’ve got a lot of exciting times ahead of me and a lot of work as well, so I’m going to work hard this summer and be ready to go by the time the season starts."

Not that Prince is looking past the opportunity to impress Senators brass at training camp in September.

"I'm going to be here to try to make the team," he said. "I'm not going to sell myself short. That's my goal and if it does happen, great. I'm going to do everything I can to stay and help this be a winning team next year. If not, I'll go to Binghamton and try to do the same thing."

Prince, a second-round pick (61st overall) by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, posted career highs in goals (43) and points (90) during the 2011-12 season with the 67's, ranking fourth in the OHL in scoring. He added another 16 points during Ottawa's run to the Eastern Conference final.

Even though he knows the next step is a tough one, Prince believes he can continue to be a productive player offensively at the professional level.

"It's going to be hard," the 5-11, 189-pound Prince said of the jump to the AHL. "But I've played at a high level my whole life at each age (level) and I always succeeded and found a way to produce. That's what I'm going to have to do at the next level and I'll find a way.

"I'd like to put on a little more weight because at the next level, the guys are a lot bigger and stronger. Other than that, I've just got to play my game. I think I have a good style of play that will succeed at the next level. Use my speed and I'll be fine."

Last fall, Prince was the Senators' top scorer at the NHL rookie tournament in Oshawa, which ended with Ottawa's prospects sinking their Toronto Maple Leafs counterparts in overtime to claim top honours.

"That was a lot of fun, actually. More fun than I anticipated," Prince said in reflecting on that experience. "It's good to see who you're matched up against. It was not only your own prospects in this organization but a few other teams' prospects, and you see how you stack up against them. I did very well and so did our team. We've got a lot of young guys coming up and it looks like a bright future."

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