Bron­cos select for­mer team­mates in open­ing round of Ban­tam Draft

Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - STEVEN MAH SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

The Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos se­lected a to­tal of eight players in the 2017 WHL Ban­tam Draft, high­lighted by a pair of for­mer team­mates in the open­ing round.

The Bron­cos used the first of their two first round picks to select Ed­mon­ton’s Joel Sex­smith ninth over­all.

“It’s pretty sur­real,” said Sex­smith shortly af­ter be­ing drafted. “I think it’s some­thing I have dreamed about for a long time, play­ing in the WHL. I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to con­tribut­ing to Swift Cur­rent’s suc­cess in the fu­ture.”

“Joel is a smooth skat­ing de­fense­man,” said Bron­cos Di­rec­tor of Hockey Op­er­a­tions Jamie Porter. “He is ex­tremely in­tel­li­gent, sees the ice real well. We have been look­ing for a de­fense­man and Joel is the per­fect fit for us.”

Sex­smith had four goals and 12 as­sists in 30 games this past sea­son with RINK Hockey Academy Ban­tam Prep. He is listed at 6’1’’ and weighs 162 pounds.

“If I have to be com­pletely hon­est with you, never in a mil­lion years would I have thought I would have went where I did,” he said of be­ing se­lected ninth over­all. “I am very honoured and very blessed to have gone where I did. I am hon­estly just pretty over­whelmed with ev­ery­thing right now. It is a pretty un­be­liev­able ex­pe­ri­ence and this day only hap­pens once.”

Sex­smith was rec­og­nized for a hav­ing a strong Al­berta Cup per­for­mance re­cently.

“We track body of work. He did play well at the end of the year, played ag­gres­sive, was in con­trol. I mean it’s what we’ve seen all year,” said Porter.

Sex­smith be­comes the fi­nal piece of last sea­son’s trade that sent Jake De­brusk to the Red Deer Rebels in ex­change for Lane Ped­er­son, a third round pick last year, and the Rebels’ first round pick this year.

Sex­smith has ties to the Bron­cos through re­cent draft picks Isaac Poul­ter and Josh Prokop.

“I have a de­cent grasp of the or­ga­ni­za­tion through them. But I hon­estly won’t know un­til camp be­gins in the sum­mer. I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to meet­ing the peo­ple of Swift Cur­rent and hope­fully end­ing up play­ing there next year or the year af­ter.”

The Bron­cos also held the 13th over­all pick af­ter fin­ish­ing 10th in the WHL reg­u­lar sea­son with a 39-23-4-6 record. They used that pick to select Ver­non, BC for­ward Ben King. King had 16 goals and 30 as­sists with Pur­suit of Ex­cel­lence Ban­tam Prep.

“I am re­ally ex­cited for it,” said King af­ter be­ing drafted by the Bron­cos. “It should be a good place and I am just su­per pumped.”

“Ben is a good sized for­ward who is go­ing to play both ways,” said Porter of the 5’11.5”, 161-pound King. “He has got some skill. He has ac­tu­ally played some defense too. We like his lead­er­ship qual­i­ties. We re­ally like his char­ac­ter. He fits into the type of player a Bronco is.”

“We were tar­get­ing a D and a for­ward in one way or the other. It kind of worked out per­fect for us. We’re quite happy,” said Porter of the Bron­cos’ first-round haul.

Sex­smith said he and Smith played to­gether dur­ing a tour­na­ment in Europe years ago.

“Def­i­nitely a great guy, a good leader, strong, good with the puck, and ul­tra in­tel­li­gent,” said Sex­smith of King. “I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to co­op­er­at­ing with him from the back end.”

“Yeah from play­ing against him this year too, he is a great de­fen­sive D man and he can pro­duce of­fense too. He is just a great D man,” said Smith of Sex­smith while in Philadel­phia at a tour­na­ment.

Smith also played with Bron­cos’ 2016 draft picks Con­nor Horn­ing (3rd round) and Nolan Cor­rado (4th round) so has some knowl­edge of the Bron­cos and Swift Cur­rent.

“I heard they get quite a few fans for a lit­tle town or a lit­tle city. I heard it is a great place to play and great coach­ing and good players.”

The Prince Al­bert Raiders opened the draft by se­lect­ing Sher­wood Park de­fense­man Kaiden Guhle with the first over­all pick. The Koote­nay Ice fol­lowed by se­lect­ing Wain­right, AB for­ward Con­nor Mc­clen­non sec­ond over­all. The Van­cou­ver Giants added Sur­rey cen­tre Justin Sour­diff third over­all. The Ed­mon­ton Oil Kings added Air­drie’s Jake Neigh­bours fourth over­all. The Saska­toon Blades rounded out the top five by grab­bing Lan­g­ley de­fense­man Ai­dan De La Gor­gendiere.

The first round con­sisted of 15 for­wards, six de­fense­man, and one goal­tender. Al­berta led the way with 11 players, fol­lowed by six skaters from Bri­tish Columbia, three from Saskatchewan and two from Man­i­toba.

Sex­smith was the first of nine RINK players se­lected in the Ban­tam Draft.

“The RINK has done won­ders for my game and for my ma­tu­rity as well. I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for my game.

It has been a pretty un­be­liev­able year there. I have met some un­be­liev­able peo­ple and I can’t thank them enough,” he said.

One of the most ob­vi­ous sto­ry­lines in the open­ing round was the se­lec­tion of a record 13 players out of the CSSHL, in­clud­ing both Sex­smith and King.

Sex­smith said he chose to join RINK Hockey Academy be­cause it would pre­pare him best for the WHL.

The de­ci­sion to join POE was a lit­tle eas­ier for King, liv­ing in nearby Ver­non, but he said the CSSHL com­pe­ti­tion drew him there. His team fin­ished with a 25-1-4 record in the Ban­tam Prep Di­vi­sion.

“It was an un­real sea­son, just lots of fun. The players were un­real, coaches were re­ally good, and it was an al­laround great sea­son.”

Six POE players were taken in the open­ing round and 12 were se­lected in the draft in to­tal.

The Bron­cos added goal­tender Ethan Hein in the third round, 57th over­all. Hein is a 6’2’’ prod­uct of Saska­toon. He posted a 2.37 goals against av­er­age and a 14-2-0 record with the Saska­toon Maniacs.

The Bron­cos used their first pick of the sixth round, 117th over­all, to select St. Al­bert cen­tre Alex Thacker. The 5’7.5’’ for­ward had 57 points in 36 games with the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers.

They fol­lowed up by se­lect­ing de­fense­man Bryce Mar­get­son with the 123rd pick, also in the sixth round. The 6’0.5’’ Sur­rey, BC na­tive skated for the Delta Hockey Academy Wild Ban­tam Prep team last sea­son.

The Bron­cos grabbed York­ton for­ward Massen Zi­ola in the sev­enth round, 145th over­all. The 5’7.5’’ left winger reg­is­tered 24 goals and 31 as­sists in 27 games for the Ter­ri­ers this past sea­son.

They went back to the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers with a sec­ond pick in the sev­enth round when they se­lected de­fense­man Daron Cyr 154th over­all from St. Al­bert.

They traded away their ninth round pick be­fore se­lect­ing Cran­brook left wing Mar­low Wy­att, who played for Okana­gan Hockey Academy Prep last sea­son, with the 211th over­all pick in the 10th round.

The Bron­cos fin­ished the day with one goal­tender, three de­fense­man, and four for­wards.

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