Looks like Joey Leach is sticking around in Oklahoma.
The former Kootenay Ice captain has impressed the brass with the Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL to earn a one-year, one-way contract, which was announced by the organization on Monday.
“I got it through Friday morning, but they released it today,” said Leach, speaking from Saskatoon, where he is training at the University of Saskatchewan for the off-season. “So it just took a little while to process it all.”
Not bad for a guy who only got in one game for his amateur tryout, which he earned after the Kootenay Ice was bounced out of the first round of the WHL playoffs.
Leach’s only appearance was in the final game of the Barons’ regular season, where he put two shots on net and served a two-minute minor.
“I love being up there, it gave me a chance to see a little bit of the speed and everything and obviously to figure out how they do things up there and the lifestyle that you have to live in order to play there,” said Leach.
“… Only getting into the one game, obviously I’d like to get into more, but that helped me a lot too, just finding out the speed a little more.”
With the Oklahoma City Barons, Leach is now in the system of the Edmonton Oilers after getting picked up in the third round of the 2010 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames, only to turn into a free agent after two years.
While Leach adjusted to the the technical side of the game in the AHL, he also went through some off-ice trauma—along with the rest of the city—when a tornado tore through a suburb on May 20th.
He was 10 miles away from the hardest hit area while staying in a hotel along with some teammates. The league had to cancel another game 10 days later because of tornado warnings.
“That was quite the experience to have that happen when I was down there. A couple of them got pretty close to us,” said Leach.
“…We weren’t in any immediate danger, so they just told us we could stay in the hotel and we watched it unfold on the TV.”
Just as Leach did went out in the community while with the Ice, he, along with some Barons teammates, headed out into the city to volunteer for relief efforts.
“A few of us, we went and took some supplies down to the tornado relief victims, to one of the shelters down there, almost to where the big one had hit,” said Leach, “so we got to experience that by going and seeing how they coped with the relief efforts there.”
NOTES: Another Ice alumnus, Matt Fraser, also has a new AHL deal, signing a one-year two-way contract with the Dallas Stars. Fraser had a team-high 33 goals this season with the Texas Stars, and appeared in 12 games with his parent club in Dallas.