Moose Jaw’s Reece Newkirk made a decision on his hockey future over the weekend.

The 15-year-old forward with the Moose Jaw Generals signed his WHL Standard Player Agreement with the Portland Winterhawks on New Year’s Day, committing to the team and the league.

“It felt pretty good, there was a lot of emotions, it finally happened and it was a good decision,” said Newkirk. “We put a lot of thought into the decision and we feel like we made the right one.”

Newkirk was keeping his options open after attending training camp with the Winterhawks back in August. After exploring the NCAA route, he finally decided that the Western Hockey League was the best option for him.

“We just looked at the Portland organization, it’s top notch, and we looked at the staff and just the way the training camp went and how they treated us and that was a prime factor in why we signed with them,” said Newkirk.

Currently in his first season with the Generals, Newkirk is putting together a solid campaign with nine goals and a team-high 24 points in 29 games through the first half in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.

Newkirk feels like he’s been able to progress throughout the season and he’s happy with the year that he’s put together so far.

“My first game this year, the size really caught me off guard, but my success comes from the team that I’m playing on, the guys on my team are great and good to play with as well,” said Newkirk.

“I’ve been able to contribute in my own way, but it really helps out a lot more when you’ve got good linemates, they make me look good.”

Newkirk was originally drafted in the third round, 53rd overall, by the Winterhawks in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft following a stellar season with the Notre Dame Bantam AAA Hounds that saw him rack up 53 points in 37 games.

There isn’t any apprehension for Newkirk in heading south to continue his hockey career as early as next season.

“I’m kind of excited about that,” he said. “I kind of got a taste of being away from home when I was at Notre Dame, but that’s only 45 minutes down the road and I could see my parents on the weekend. This will be far, but I’ll be able to keep in touch.”

Newkirk and the Generals are coming off a sub-par finish at the 2017 Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament, posting a 1-3 record in round robin play. They will return to league action this weekend with a trip to Prince Albert on Saturday and Beardy’s on Sunday.

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