Although the Prince Albert Raiders didn’t place anyone on the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference all-star teams, they do have a pair of players as conference finalists for league awards. Leon Draisaitl, the 17-year-old phenom from Cologne, Germany, is up for the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as WHL rookie of the year and Josh Morrissey, a 17-year-old sophomore defenseman, will go up against a Western Conference representative – yet to be named - for the Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Cup Trophy as the scholastic player of the year. Draisaitl had 58 points in 64 games and represented his native Germany at the world junior hockey championship in Russia over the Christmas holidays. Morrissey, who is expected to be a first-round draft pick at the NHL entry draft this June, maintained academic excellence in addition to his performance on the ice. Other Eastern Conference award finalists are: Patrik Bartosak, Red Deer Rebels, top goaltender; Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw Warriors, top defenseman; Dylan Wruck, Edmonton Oil Kings, most sportsmanlike; Ryan McGill, Kootenay Ice, coach of the year; Bob Green, Edmonton, executive of the year; Saskatoon Blades – marketing and business award. Portland Winterhawks have already captured the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the regular-season champions (117points) and Nicolas Petan and Brendan Leipsic, both from Portland, will have their names engraved on the Bob Clarke Trophy as the top scorer (120 points).
As mentioned above, the all-star teams were named in conjunction with the release of the individual award finalists. Named to the Eastern Conference first all-star team are: goaltender – Patrik Bartosak, Red Deer; defence – Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw and Darren Dietz, Saskatoon; forwards – Adam Lowry, Swift Current Broncos, Michael St. Croix, Edmonton and Curtis Valk, Medicine Hat Tigers. Lowry was the only unanimous choice. The second all-star consists of: goaltender – Laurent Brossoit, Edmonton; defence – Alex Roach, Calgary Hitmen and Keegan Lowe, Edmonton; forwards – Sam Reinhard, Kootenay Ice, Cody Sylvester, Calgary and Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat.
The draft lottery was held this week and as expected the Vancouver Giants will pick first when the bantam draft convenes in Calgary on May 2. The Giants, who posted the worst record in the WHL this year, are expected to pluck Ty Benson from Edmonton with the first selection as the 15-year-old shattered every scoring record imaginable in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League this winter. The Regina Pats moved up two spots as a result of the lottery and they will select second overall. Defenseman Kale Clague from Lloydminster is expected to go in that slot, but the Pats have stated they might trade down to acquire immediate help. The other non-playoff teams will draft in this order: third – Prince George; fourth – Brandon; fifth – Moose Jaw; sixth – Lethbridge. Prince Albert picks 13th overall and the Portland Winterhawks will not get a selection as a result of the penalty assessed them last fall player recruitment violations. The Saskatoon Blades will also sit out the first round as they don’t have a first-round selection until 2016 as the result of trades made in their quest for a Memorial Cup championship.
Victoria Royals are being forced to play their home games during the first round of the playoffs in the 2,300-seat Bear Mountain Arena as their normal home – the 7,006-seat Save-On-Foods memorial Centre – is being used for the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship until April 3…The Spokane Chiefs finished fourth in the Western Conference, but even if they would have finished fifth their series with the Tri-Cities Americans would have started in Spokane as NCAA women’s playoffs would have kicked them out of their home arena when Games 3 and 4 were scheduled. With the Chiefs having claimed home-ice advantage it should not get interrupted…Americans’ players Justin Feser and Mitch Topping donated $10 each out of their won pockets for every home-ice win Tri-Cities had this year. Donation buckets were also set up at the home games and a total of $6,244 was given to the Making Awareness a Top Priority to Fes Out Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. Feser and Topping had hoped to raise $2,500 so the program far exceeded expectations.
Victoria Royals finished the season with 35 victories to set a new franchise mark. The previous standard was 34 set by the team when it was still located in Chilliwack…Vancouver Giants head coach Don Hay was behind the bench for his 1,000th game on the final night of the regular season. Hay had started his junior coaching career with the Kamloops Blazers before relocating to Vancouver after a brief stint in the NHL…Saskatoon defenseman Darren Dietz has signed an entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens and Moose Jaw’s Morgan Rielly is now with the Toronto Marlies after his season with the Warriors ended.
Information for the WHL notebook is gathered from submissions provided by the WHL Writer's Group.