Remember the name Tyler Benson when the Western Hockey League has its bantam draft on May 2 in Calgary. The bantam hockey player from Edmonton has 141 points in just 31 games with the Edmonton Southside Athletic Club Lions and is a shoe-in to be the first player picked come draft day. A recent study shows that of the first and second overall picks that were taken in the bantam draft from 2002-09 – a total 16 players – nine went on to be first-round selections in the NHL. They are: 2002 – Gilbert Brule (Columbus in 2005); 2003 - Jonathan Toews (Chicago in 2006); 2004 – Colton Gillies (Minnesota in 2007); 2005 – Colton Teubert (Los Angeles in 2008); 2006 – Jared Cowan (Ottawa in 2009); 2007 – Quinton Howden (Florida in 2010); 2008 – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton in 2011); 2009 - Derrick Pouliot (Pittsburgh in 2012) and Morgan Rielly (Toronto in 2012). The jury is still out on what will happen to the first two picks of the 2010 bantam draft as Alex Forsberg and Curtis Lazar are eligible for this year’s NHL entry draft. Forsberg’s stock dropped somewhat when he quit the Prince George Cougars at Christmas and is now with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Humboldt Broncos, but Lazar is a key cog in the Edmonton Oil Kings’ drive to defend its Western Hockey League title.
The Regina Pats and the Shooting Stars Foundation, which is led by former Pats Mike Sillinger and Jamie Heward, recently made a presentation of $20,000 to Kyle Deck. The former Regina captain is battling a kidney disease and the funds, which were raised through a Pats alumni game and skills competition held on Jan. 28, will be used to offset increasing medical expenses by the Deck family…The Kelowna Rockets’ home winning streak came to an abrupt end last weekend when the Canadian Hockey League’s No. 1 team, the Portland Winterhawks, paid a visit. Kelowna had won 23 straight games at Prospera Place before the Winterhawks swept the weekend doubleheader. Prior to the losses, the Rockets had not lost on home ice since Oct. 10 when the Spokane Chiefs won 6-4. The streak was 23 games, one short of the franchise record set in 1992-93 by the Tacoma Rockets. The league mark is 29 by the Kamloops Blazers in 1993-94.
The Saskatoon Blades set an attendance record for a WHL game at Credit Union Centre when they attracted 12,588 fans for the game against the Lethbridge Hurricanes on the 25th anniversary of the multi-purpose facility. The previous mark was 12,341 but there have been many more for world junior games or concerts…Prince Albert product Jordan Harris is fitting in nicely with the Prince George Cougars. After starting the year with the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, the 16-year-old defenseman was summoned to the Cougars just after Christmas and he recently collected his first two WHL points – both assists – in a 6-4 win over the Vancouver Giants.
The Everett Silvertips recently held a town hall meeting with season ticket holders and from that session team management made a guarantee that could cost them money, or could pay dividends for the struggling club. Fighting for their playoff lives out west this year, the Silvertips have told season ticket holders if they renew their seats for next year they will get $100 off their 2014-15 ticket if they don’t finish sixth place or higher next year. Fans that have half-season packages will get $50 off their 2014-15 renewal. To emphasize their commitment to making the club stronger, the Silvertips will do the same for 2015-16 season tickets only the club will have to be in fourth place or better during the 2014-15 campaign to avoid the discounts.
Prince George’s Zach Pochiro recently showed up at a team practise and there was a camera taped to his helmet. Pochiro had been picked to wear the device for the videotaping of a segment of an upcoming program for CBC’s Marketplace. The footage will be used in a story on sports nutrition of which the Cougars are part of a cross-section of teams participating in the project. The show airs on Mar. 8…One doesn’t think much about this until it happens, but Kamloops forward Marek Hrbas is already looking at his options for next year. As a 19-year-old import the chances of him returning to the WHL are slim since each team is allowed just two imports and three overage players. Hrbas will fall into both of those categories and teams seldom use one player to take away two spots on the team. Victoria’s Alex Goglev is the lone player to be utilized that way this year meaning the same will be true for Prince Albert’s Jonas Knutsen next year. Hrbas is reportedly talking to teams back home in the Czech Republic and could possibly end up playing in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Information gathered for the WHL Notebook is compiled from submissions by the WHL Writer’s Group.