by Michael Belanger
ERZURUM, Turkey (CIS) – Canadian Ambassador to Turkey Mark Bailey and Team Canada Chef de Mission Beth Ali announced Wednesday the selection of hockey player Jordan Smith from Lakehead University as Canada’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies of the 25th Winter Universiade in Erzurum, Turkey.
Smith, who was also named captain of the red-and-white men’s hockey team on Tuesday, will lead a delegation of 141 Canadian athletes, coaches and administrators into Cemal Gursel Stadium Thursday at 8 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET).
The political science major from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., will become the third straight hockey player to carry the Canadian flag at the Winter World University Games opening ceremonies, following McGill’s Cathy Chartrand in 2009 in Harbin, China, and Moncton’s Louis Mandeville in 2007 in Turin, Italy.
“Jordan is a great representative of the student-athletes we have here,” Ali said. “His leadership qualities and true passion to compete are attributes which we all strive for. We’re delighted to have him represent all Canadian athletes at the opening ceremonies.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenceman enjoyed a stellar major junior career in the OHL with his hometown Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and was a second-round draft pick (39th overall) of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks in 2004. However, he had to give up his professional hockey ambitions due to a serious eye injury suffered in February of 2006 while playing for the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.
Despite the setback, Smith decided to not only resume his hockey career but to further his education by enrolling at Lakehead in the fall of 2006. Now in his fifth and final season of CIS eligibility, he is serving as the Thunderwolves captain for the second straight campaign, has been named an OUA all-star twice and a CIS all-Canadian on one occasion, and has led the T-Wolves to University Cup national championship appearances each of the past two seasons.
On top of his athletic abilities, Smith is an outstanding role model and is very involved in the Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie communities through volunteering with minor hockey and hockey schools.
“This experience tops anything I’ve done in my career,” said Smith. “There were numerous candidates who are worthy of this and it’s an absolute honour to lead your country and teammates into the opening ceremonies.”
Canada’s men’s hockey team – comprised of OUA all-stars – kicks off the Universiade tournament Thursday at 4 p.m. local (9 a.m. ET) against Slovenia at Cemal Gursel Sports Campus, just hours before the opening ceremonies. Canada is coming off back-to-back podium finishes at the FISU Games including its third-ever Universiade title in 2007 and a silver medal in 2009.