Mitch O'Keefe and Derek Nesbitt Ink Deals With Ottawa and Phoenix, Respectively

Two former Ferris State University men's ice hockey team standouts, Mitch O'Keefe and Derek Nesbitt, recently signed free agent contracts with a pair of National Hockey League (NHL) teams.

O'Keefe inked a one-year, entry-level contact with the Ottawa Senators on July 11 while Nesbitt signed with the Phoenix Coyotes in early July. Terms of Nesbitt's deal weren't disclosed per the club's policy.


O'Keefe, who was named FSU's Most Valuable Player for the 2007-08 season, turned in a 10-8-5 record in net for the Bulldogs with a 2.28 goals-against average (54 goals allowed) and a .920 save percentage (622 saves) as a starter in 22 of 24 appearances. Following the completion of his collegiate eligibility, O'Keefe signed an amateur tryout contract with the American Hockey League's Iowa Stars through the end of the 2007-08 season. The Almonte, Ontario native posted a 0-1-0 mark with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage (46 saves) in two appearances for the Stars. He also inked an amateur tryout contract with the AHL's Grand Rapids (Mich.) Griffins before being released and joining the Iowa Stars.

Mitch O'Keefe
Mitch O'Keefe
In his three seasons (2005-08) at Ferris State, O'Keefe compiled a 31-39-15 career mark with a 2.68 goals-against average (227 goals allowed) and a .903 save percentage (2,104 saves) in 86 appearances. The 6-2, 218-pound netminder concluded his collegiate career ranking second among Ferris' career leaders in goals-against average, tied for second in shutouts (six), third in save percentage, fifth in both victories and minutes played (5,073), tied for fifth in games played, sixth in total saves, and eighth in winning percentage (.453).

Nesbitt, who played for the Bulldogs from 2001-05, registered 35 points on 17 goals and 18 assists in 46 regular-season games with the Rockford (Ill.) IceDogs of the AHL for the 2007-08 season. The 6-0, 185-pound forward compiled six points with three goals and three assists apiece for Rockford in 12 playoff outings. Rockford would conclude the 2007-08 campaign with a 44-26-4 overall record and notched a 7-5 mark in the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs. Nesbitt joined Rockford on loan from the Gwinnett Gladiators of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) on Dec. 25, 2007. He started the 2007-08 season with Gwinnett and tallied 39 points on 11 goals with 28 assists in in 26 contests.

In three seasons with Gwinnett and the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL, Nesbitt amassed a combined 189 points with 67 goals and 122 helpers in 163 appearances. He along with former Bulldog Greg Rallo were members of the 2006-07 Idaho squad which claimed the ECHL Kelly Cup Championship.

Derek Nesbitt
Derek Nesbitt
A native of Egmondville, Ontario, Nesbitt compiled 142 career points with 59 goals and 83 assists in 154 appearances at Ferris State. The 2002-03 All-CCHA Honorable Mention Team selection presently is listed 14th among the Bulldogs' all-time points leaders while ranking 15th in goals and tied for 15th place in assists. He was a member of the 2002-03 Ferris State team which produced a school-record 31-10-1 overall record and claimed the program's first-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship. The 2002-03 Bulldogs also made the program's first-ever NCAA Division I Championship Tournament appearance and advanced to the Elite Eight.

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