Winchester Signs With Ottawa Senators

After 114 points in 143 games, including 37(eight goals, 27 assists) this season, Jesse Winchester’s Colgate hockey days have ended. On the other hand, his professional playing career is just getting started. The senior and team captain signed a one-year contract with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators on Monday, two days after Cornell ended Colgate’s season with a 4-2 victory in the ECAC consolation game. Winchester will play close to home, as he grew up in Cornwall, about 60 miles southeast of the city.

“It’s a dream come true,” Winchester said on the team’s website. “It’s something that’s been a goal, to at least start a pro career someday. Now I’m lucky enough to have that be with a hometown team.”

Despite the long college hockey season Winchester just concluded, he’s looking forward to making the jump quickly.

“I’ve followed numerous guys (on the team). It’s a great group of players and I’m lucky I’ll be able to meet them and hopefully skate with them sooner rather than later,” he explained. “I’ll give it my best every single day that I’m here.”

Winchester cannot participate in this year’s NHL or AHL playoffs because he signed after the trade deadline. Still, he began practicing with the Senators yesterday.

“I want to play him a game or two [before the regular season ends],” Head Coach and General Manager Bryan Murray told the Senators’ website. This will be subject to the condition of what Murray termed a “shoulder issue.” Ottawa visits Boston on Saturday afternoon to play the Bruins.

“It’s exciting,” classmate Matt Torti said. “He grew up near there and his brothers go to the University of Ottawa. This can only help the Colgate program.”

Winchester’s other former teammates were delighted about the news, perhaps none more so than Ottawa native Tom Riley.

“To sign for my favorite NHL team makes it even better,” the junior forward said.

“He worked hard all year and is very deserving of the outcome,” sophomore David McIntyre added. “It lets me know it’s possible. I need to keep working hard and hope for the best,” the Dallas Stars’ 2006 fifth-round pick said.

If he dresses for a game, Winchester will be the fourth Colgate alum to play in the NHL this season, joining St. Louis’s Andy McDonald ’00, Florida’s Cory Murphy ’01, and Carolina’s Joey Mormina ’05.