The Nottingham Panthers sit in second place in the ten team Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) of Great Britain. The Panthers are three points back of the Belfast Giants but have three games in hand. The Panthers have brought in a dangerous weapon to subdue the Giants and push into first place.
Ontario Hockey League grad Jeff Heerema has finally found a home for the 2010-11 season. He was not invited back to Medvescak Zagreb of Austria’s Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (EBEL) after a successful regular season but less than stellar playoff run in 2009-10.
Heerema played three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League from 1997-98 to 1999-00, all with the Sarnia Sting. Jeff was a picture of consistency with the Sting with seasons of 32, 31 and 36 goals and 72, 70 and 77 points. He led the Sting in all offensive categories in his final season with 36 goals, 41 assists and 77 points.
Heerema was thought of quite highly by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 1998 NHL draft. Jeff went in the first round, eleventh overall. He saw action with the Hurricanes in the 2002-03 season, a year before cousin Eric Staal made his debut in Carolina. Heerema played ten games with the Hurricanes that season and 22 with the St. Louis Blues the following year to round out his NHL career.
Jeff twice led his American Hockey League team in points. in his first season in the AHL, 2001-02, he led the Lowell Lock Monsters in goals (33), assists (37) and points (70). In his last season in North America, 2006-07, Heerema led the Binghamton Senators in goals with 36 and points with 67.
The greatest playoff success Jeff achieved in North America was during the 2004-05 season. Playing for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, the team made it to the Western Conference finals before being swept by the Chicago Wolves.
In 2007-08, it was off to Germany for Heerema. For two seasons, he played for the Frankfurt Lions of Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL).
Jeff joins two other OHL grads on the Nottingham Panthers, Alex Penner (click here for a previous post on Alex) and Jonathan Zion (click here for a previous post on Jonathan). The Belfast Giants have brought in artillery in the form of OHL grads as well with the aquisition of Brad Smyth (click here for previous post on Brad) and Michael Jacobsen (click here for previous post on Michael). The Panthers lost OHL great Cameron Mann to retirement after the 2009-10 season (click here for previous post on Cameron).