With the close of the Alberta Cup and the finalizing of our draft list for the 2002 born age class, it is now time to shift our primary focus to the 2003 born age group and the 2004 born age groups as we look toward the 2018 and 2019 WHL Bantam Drafts.
The Alberta Champions Cup took place with the 2003 group in Okotoks, AB this past weekend. The tournament featured 6 teams with players from various regions sprinkled throughout the teams. The Notre Dame Hounds were crowned champions after finishing with a perfect 6-0-0 record which included a 6-3 win in the final. Cole Sillinger capped off a tremendous tournament with 2 goals in the final which gave him a tournament leading 10 goals. We fully expect Sillinger to be a high first round selection if he opts for the WHL route.
Cole Sillinger (Regina) led all scorers with 10-1-11 along side his Notre Dame teammate Matthew Hodson (Saskatoon) with 3-8-11. Logan Cox (Prince Albert) had 3-6-9 after posting an impressive nearly a PPG this season in the SBAAHL.. Bid dman Jeremy Hancock (North East Wolfpack) was strong. The Notre Dame team had many ranked players from the province of Saskatchewan with D – Marek Schneider (Prince Albert), Blake Swetlikoff (Regina), Hayden Wilm (Swift Current), Kyle Bochek (IHA) to name a few.
Other notables from the tournament were Dylan James (CBHA) who played AA hockey in Calgary and was one of the leading scorers. He played with Overseas Stars at this tournament showed well in leading his team with 6-4-10 in 5 games. Brett Moravec (Edge) had a decent rookie year in the tough CSSHL Prep division with 13 points had 4-3-7 on the Stars. Kobe Assam (POE), the lone 03 on the POE Prep team this past year led his team with 1-3-4 in 4 games. Ethan Sundar (Edmonton MLAC) led his Silverbacks team with 4-3-7. Sundhar had a good rookie bantam year with 15-10-25 with Edmonton MLAC. Alex Bernauer (Saskatoon), a highly regarded 03 from Saskatoon played on the Lakeland Lightning team and had a PPG but the leading scorer on this team was Wyatt Cook who played in the NABHL with the Lakeland Panthers had 7 points in 5 games.
The 2004 division had many more teams and prospects taking part. In total, there were 11 teams, divided into 2 divisions. The Winterhawks ended up taking the tournament crown with a 8-3 win over the NAA Chain. The Winterhawks have many of the top players from Northern Alberta who in some cases were ranked very high for the 04 age group. Leading the way was a pair of Fort Saskatchewan forwards in Jordan Gustafson (9-12-21) and Rhett Melnyk (12-7-19) in 6 games. Gavin Barlett and Joel Webb were also very good. Ben Hemmerling (Sherwood Park) showed well as did D – Parker Garries and Nolen Kaziel for the champions.
The Pinnacle Elite were the cream of the crop in the other division. Liam Watkins (Okotoks) showed extremely well in leading the entire tournament with 13-12-25 in 6 games! Another highly regarded player – Aidan Fink (Calgary) had 9-9-18 and Hayden Pakkala (Foothills) was among the leaders as well with 6-11-17.
Other notables from the tournament:
- D – Holden Getzlaf (Kelowna) – Edge of Excellence
- D – Carson Brisson (Beaumont) – Edmonton Wild
- Tyler Lindal (Humboldt) and Luke Kortko (Humboldt) – CWH Quest
- ** Billal Noori (Edmonton) – NAA Chill
- Grayson Gootas (Camrose) – NAA Chill
- Ty Hurley (Sherwood Park) – NAA Chill
- Tanner Scott (Sherwood Park) – NAA Chill
- Matt Ward (Kamloops) – Junior Cariboo
- Mirko Buttazzoni (BWC Bruins) – Junior Cariboo
- Ethan Look (Calgary) – Shock Hockey
- Jackson Rowland (Calgary) – Shock Hockey
- ** Tyson Zimmer (Russel) – Notre Dame
The 2017 Alberta Cup just wrapped up in beautiful Canmore, AB. This gave our scouts a final look at the players in finalizing our Bantam Draft Preview list which we released on Saturday.
Team South proved to be too much as they capped off a undefeated tournament with a 4-0-1 record. In the final, they got by Team North West 5-1. Jake Neighbours scored 1-2-3 finishing out with 2-4-6. Neighbours went the previous three games without a point but had a nice final. Kadyn Chabot had 1-1-2, finishing with 3-3-6. Kyle Crnkovic scored as well, he finished with 4-2-6. Cole Tisdale of Lethbridge got the win in goal.
- Calgary North finished out with a disappointing 1-4-0 record. They were led by Clarke Huxley in points with 2-3-5. Huxley, who played with the Calgary Northstar Sabres this past season had just 9-5-14 in 34 games. Ethan Rowland, who is one of the top ranked players from Calgary and was named to the tournament all-star team had 2-1-3 in 5 games. The team failed to get a goal from its defense core but Calgary Northstars dmen – Nate Prosser and Mitchell Wilkie chipped in a bit with some helpers. Connor Ungar (Calgary Flames) had a 4.02 GAA in 3 games, facing about 38 shots-per-game. There is a decent chance Ungar will be picked on draft day.
- Calgary South finished with a decent 3-2-0 record. Heath Armstrong (Calgary Bisons) led the way with 3 goals for the team. Armstrong had a good season with the Bisons with 11-21-32 in 34 games. Highly regarded and possible first round draft pick Ozzy Wiesblatt was the team leader with 2-3-5 after having a fantastic regular season where he finished 3rd in AMBHL scoring with 38-35-73. Only Jack Zayat (Calgary Bisons) was able to find the scoresheet among dmen with 1-1-2 while Ben Zloty (Calgary Royals) and Tyler Witzke (Calgary Bisons) each had 3 assists. A high ranked player who didn’t put up the points is Braden Plaschewsky who had just 2 assists but we like his body of work and believe he will go somewhere in the top 30 picks. Garin Bjorklund cemented for us at this event that he will be one of the first goalies taken after posting a sparkling 1.34 GAA in 3 games and facing 33 shots-per-game.
- Central finished about where we thought they would with a 2-3-0 record. Keaton Sorensen (Notre Dame) had a very strong tournament with 2-3-5 after picking up just 6-6-12 in 30 games in the CSSHL this past season. The AMBHL scoring leader from this season – Noah Danielson was held pointless in 5 games which may hurt his draft stock a bit. His high-scoring team-mate from Red Deer – Brett Meerman was also very quiet with 1 goal in 5 games. Highly regarded dman – Ronan Seely (Red Deer) picked up a pair of assists. A player we really have grown to like more and more through the year is Dallon Melin (Camrose) and he was strong once again. Small, skilled Bode Hagan (OHA-EDM) had a nice showing. D – Austin Klein (Lloydminster) had just 1-4-5 in 33 games in the AMBHL this year but had 4 assists at the Alberta Cup. Big 6’4 Talyn Boyko (POE) was good in goal in posting a .920%.
- Edmonton Blue had a average showing with a 2-3-0 record as well. The surprise scoring leader was Luigi-Antonio Benincasa with 3-3-6 which included points in all but 1 game. Benincasa played with Edmonton KC this past season where he had a modest 13-9-22 this past season. High-scoring and ranked Jacob Franken led the team with 4 goals and he also led his MLAC team by far with 27 goals in the AMBHL regular season. D- Joel Sexsmith (RHA) confirmed to us that he will be a first round selection on Thursday. The captain of Edmonton Blue is a force. One of our high ranked dmen Joe Hawkins was decent but it didn’t show on the scoreboard. Both goalies – Colin Norrish and Nicholas Rimmer were hot and cold.
- And yet another 2-3-0 team. Sherwood Park F – Cole Carrier led the way with 2-3-5. He was 2nd on his team this past season with 21 goals and should be drafted. One of our highest ranked defenseman – Luke Prokop (POE) was named to the tournament all-star team and was very strong and steady. Brandon Lee (Edmonton SSAC) had 2-2-4 at the tournament and Edmonton SSAC F – Jacob Bodnaruk with 2-1-3. Blake Lyda (Edmonton CAC) really confirmed to us a good reason to vault him up our rankings with a 2.36 GAA. Kanwar Gill (OHA Edmonton) was strong as well.
- There was much anticipation around Team North East due to the fact they were loaded with so many highly ranked players. The top forward coming into to the Alberta Cup in Western Canada – Connor McClennon, the top goaltender – Sebastian Cossa and the top defenseman – Kaiden Guhle and many, many other high end prospects. With all that, North East mustered just a 3-2-0 record. All the top players showed ok in bits and spurts but nothing jaw-dropping or assertive really. Connor McClennon finished with 5-2-7 which actually ended up leading the tournament despite not having his best showing according to many WHL scouts. We don’t believe this can hurt his value though. Peyton McKenzie (Brother of Skyler) of the Portland Winterhawks is a nice prospect and he produced as well with a tournament leading 3-4-7. Cole Dubinsky, who was injured for portions of the season showed well with 4 goals. Aj MaCauley of Lloydminster is a player who really came on down the stretch this season and continued it to the Alberta Cup and is a player that could go much higher than where we ranked him at in our final rankings. Kaiden Guhle was steady and strong, Noah Boyko (Fort Saskatchewan) steady and strong and we like him a lot as well. Both goalie, Andreai Proctor-Ramirez and Sebastian Cossa were very, very good! Proctor-Ramirez (Yale) played 2.5 games and had a 1.20 GAA with a .950% and Cossa had a 1.62 and a .930%. Both will be picks and Cossa should go somewhere in the 2nd round. We have 13 ranked players from this team when it was all said and done!
- North West made it to the final and finished with a 2-2-1 record after losing the final 5-1 to Team South. Jace Isley (OHA Edmonton) led the team with 5 assists. He had 1-14-15 in 22 CSSHL games this past season. Big Krz Plummer (POE), who we really like, led the team with 4 goals. We like Plummer to go in the top 3 rounds. D – Kaden Reinders (GPAC) was very strong and could rise up the rankings on draft day. Michael Benning (St. Albert) was skating miles and if not for the college scare would be getting first round talk! There could be as many as 8-10 draft picks from this squad who are littered with many St. Albert players who had a very successful season. Both goalies, Ethan Barwick and Cameron Beson was ok.
- South were crowned the Alberta Cup champions after going a perfect 4-0-1. South were considered one of the powerhouse teams coming in, simply because of the many high end bantam prospects they possess. Top 10 ranked players like Kyle Crnkovic (4-2-6), Jake Neighbours (2-4-6) showed well enough. Ridly Greig (Lethbridge) showed some good signs but wasn’t a stand out. First round possible D – 6’4 Anson McMaster had a good tournament and Lethbridge captain Kadyn Chabot showed well enough to go in the top 4 rounds we feel. A player who really helped their cause was Airdrie D – Tyrel Bauer! In goale, Cole Tisdale would get our vote as top goalie as he was so good with a 1.33 and a .963% in his 3 games in stopping 104/108 shots! A player who really opened our eyes was big G – Gage Alexander who played AA this past year but is a good prospect!