It is hard to believe that we have reached the mid-season point already of another bantam hockey season.  One thing that isn’t hard to believe is the abundance of talent that Western Canada continues to supply to the hockey world.  Although many of those talents have found their way to the ever growing CSSHL prep and varsity leagues across Western Canada, there are still many high end players who chose to stay with their club hockey programs and continue to flourish their just the same.  Today, we will highlight some of the top stories, performances and news that has happened during the first half of the season and look forward to the stretch run and eventual bantam draft.

  1. There is no question the CSSHL continues to grow and be the go-to destination for the majority of the high end talent in Western Canada.  In our latest WEHP rankings (released December 11th), 32/44 players ranked in our top 2 rounds are from the CSSHL with just 4 players in the first round being from other leagues.
  2. Zack Stringer is the lone bantam aged player who is playing Midget AAA hockey this year and he has more than held his own.  Stringer, who is our 3rd overall ranked prospect at the break has racked up an impressive 17-13-30 in 21 games and his 17 goals are tied for the league lead with last years 4th overall selection Jake Neighbours.
  3. Saskatchewan’s 2003 born age class may very well be know as the “year of the defenseman” when it is all said and done.  Although the depth at forward from the province may not be super strong, the defense core is shining led by 1st round ranked Nolan Allan of Humboldt.  There is likely to be as many as 7 defenseman from the province go within the top 60 picks of the draft with a couple more following just after.
  4. Trevor Wong of St. George’s Academy has been a story in more ways than one.  He has completely dominated the CSSHL Varsity league with 45-56-101 in 20 GP.  He has a 35 point lead atop the scoring race over teammate Dylan Fader who has 66.  Trevor’s other big news item from the first half of the season was the commitment to the University of Denver.  This would certainly be a big blow to the WHL but we wish Trevor all the best, great kid and family.
  5. As for Wong’s St. George’s Academy Varsity team…..Many are of the opinion that they should be in the bantam prep division and rightfully so.  However, new CSSHL programs must spend their first year in a varsity division is the update we have received when I ask why they weren’t in that division.  St. George’s are 20-0-0 with 235GF – 20GA, with some games as of late playing their top players every 4-5 shifts only.
  6. The CSSHL Prep division on the other hand has proven to be very competitive among its top teams.  There is just 6 points separating the top 7 teams with each team looking like the top team on any given night.  There are several teams though who have played less games such as Yale who have played the least and lead in win% at 14-2-0, followed by OHA Edmonton at 13-2-1, RHA at 16-3-1 and NAX at 14-3-0.  It should be a great finish and a very competitive playoffs for what many around the bantam hockey world are calling the true Western Canada Bantam Championship now.
  7. 2004 born star forward Matthew Savoie of the Northern Alberta Xtreme continues to dominate games and cement his place as the #1 overall ranked player for the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.  He leads the top league in Western Canada with 3.4 PPG with 18-39-57.  His 39 assists are by far the most in the CSSHL, leading by 11 over his teammate Dylan Guenther.  Could we see teams near the bottom of the WHL standings next year tanking a bit?  Perhaps!
  8. Logan Stankoven is coming off yet another great performance at a recent CSSHL/WHL Showcase in Saskatoon over the weekend.  Stankoven was named MVP of the showcase and despite his size (5’6), he looks to be a dynamic player in the making for the WHL.  Stankoven is tied for 2nd in the CSSHL in goals with 29 in 16 games, putting him on pace for nearly 60 goals.  What is even more impressive is that out of Yale’s 14 wins, he has 8 GWG!  Logan has scored 2 goals in 2 games at the Midget Prep level as well and guess what?  One of them was a GWG.  He has a goal in every game this season with the exception of 1 game.
  9. Cole Sillinger of OHA Penticton has been a one man show on many nights this year.  Sillinger leads the CSSHL in goals at the break with 38 goals in 20 games.  He has scored a goal in every single game this year with the exception of just 1 game.
  10. It can be a bit easy to overlook Dylan Guenther with all the focus on Matthew Savoie but Guenther has just as much to do with Savoie success as Savoie does with Guenther.  Dylan is tied for 2nd in goals in the CSSHL with 29 and has recorded 5 hat-tricks this season.  He has been held off the scoresheet just once this season.
  11. Carson Lambos has been the top defenseman in his age group for 2 years running now and that doesn’t seem like it will change in the 2nd half.  Lambos has been dominant almost every game and has it all.  Lambos leads the CSSHL in points for defenseman by a good margin with 9-20-29 in 20 games.  Lambos will be the first defenseman selected, it is just a matter of if the team selecting first prefers a defenseman or a forward as to if he actually goes #1.
  12. Northern Alberta Xtreme look to dominate in the first round of the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.  Currently, we have 5 players ranked in the top 20 picks, including 4 of the top 13 ranked players and the top ranked goalie.  This doesn’t even include #1 overall ranked 2004 born prospect Matthew Savoie who would be a top 10 pick if included in this years draft.
  13. The strength of the draft is definitely in Northern Alberta this season.  Along with NAX players ranked in the 1st round who are all from Northern Alberta, OHA Edmonton have 3 1st round ranked players and 5 of the top 28.  Of those 28 picks, 12 of those players are from Northern Alberta!
  14. Yale Hockey Academy, who lead the CSSHL in winning percentage at the break have 4 1st round ranked players and are 2nd in that category behind NAX.  Yale are made up primarily of British Columbia prospects.  As many as 8 players from Yale could be selected in the top 2 rounds of the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.  Although much of the BC top talent is on Yale, several other top players are sprinkled on Delta Green, BWC Academy, OHA Penticton, Pacific Coast Academy have a few as well.
  15. It is quite possible that we won’t have a 1st round British Columbia defenseman taken this year.  There are some ranked in the 18-44 range but not many and certainly no top 10 picks.  It has been a while since this has occurred but this is definitely something to watch to see if someone emerges.
  16. Could RHA G – Tyler Brennan emerge as the top goalie when it is all said and done?  Perhaps.  Brennan leads the league with an impressive .935% and has a 1.97GAA and sits 2nd in goals saved above average.  Brennan is big and WHL teams like “big” when it comes to goalies these days.  He stands at 6’3 already.  Thomas Milic of BWC Academy leads in goals saved above average and has really been upping his game as the season has progressed.
  17. As we outlined at the start of the season, it was thought the Airdrie Xtreme would turn their fortunes around from recent average to well below average seasons.  They have done just that with a 16-1-5 record and are 2nd in league win percentage behind the 19-2-2 perennial powerhouse Calgary Bisons.  It is thought by many close to the Xtreme that they still have another gear and could even be more dominant.  A few top ranked players got off to slow starts or were injured and are now just regaining form.  They are the favorite to win the Western Canada Bantam Hockey Championship at this point along with the Bisons.  The South is strong in the AMBHL.
  18. Speaking of the AMBHL and the strength of the league….The AMBHL South was relatively untouched by the CSSHL and certainly lost no top players compared to the AMBHL North where the majority of top players went to NAX or OHA Edmonton.  The South games have been far more competitive night in and night out and even the south’s bottom teams like SEAC Tigers, Calgary Flames and Okotoks Oilers are in most games and compete.
  19. One player from the AMBHL we were really looking forward to watching this year was D – Devin Aubin from GPAC Storm.  However, he suffered a serious injury early in the season – just 3 games in.  Aubin is considered by our scouting staff to be a top defenseman from the province of Alberta and worthy of a top 2 round ranking.  The good news is that Devin returned over the weekend and played 3 games for his GPAC Storm, scoring 1 goal.  He has 5-0-5 in 6 GP so far.  He is a prospect from he AMBHL to watch closely in the 2nd half.
  20. Jayden Grubbe of the Calgary Bisons is the premier or at the very least one of the premier power forwards available for this year’s WHL Bantam Draft.  Grubbe leads the AMBHL in scoring with 19-21-40 and is on track for over 60 points.  Those 60 points though would be one of the lowest league leading totals since the AMBHL began keeping stats.
  21. High end 2004 born Koehn Ziemmer of Spruce Grove PAC leads the league in goals with 22 goals in 22 games.  It should be pointed out though that if 2004 Billal Noori hadn’t suffered a season ending injury in his 10th game of the season, he would most likely be leading the league in points and goals.  At the time of Noori’s injury, he had 13-10-23 in those 10 games.  Noori is ranked 3rd overall right now for the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft and Ziemmer is highly ranked as well.
  22. One of the big stories so far this season in Western Canada has been the play of Calgary Bisons goalie Marek Pocherewny.  The numbers he is putting up are mind boggling to say the least!  He leads in every single goaltending category with a GAA of 0.92, save percentage at .957, shutouts with 5 and a 10-0-2 record!  He faces on average 20 shots per game and is playing in a competitive league.  His numbers are by far the tops in every category.
  23. How long has it been since either BWC Bruins or NSWC Winterhawks have been atop the PCAHA standings?  A long time is the answer!  This year, the Seafair Islanders have taken over the reigns atop the standings with an 11-1-0 league record which has included some tournament wins as well.  Seafair beat NSWC 9-2 this year in a game and BWC Bruins don’t even have a flight 1 team this season.
  24. The BWC Bruins top team in the PCAHA are in flight 2 and sit with a record of 4-9-0.  Of course we know that the Tier 1 BWC Bruins are really the BWC Academy in the CSSHL but again just another example of how the CSSHL is overtaking the scope of Western Canada bantam hockey.  NSWC are semi-competitive at 5-6-2 in flight 1 of the CSSHL.  They don’t have a CSSHL team but many potential recruits have opted for the CSSHL as well.  It has been thought the PCAHA may move to a zoning situation to increase the competiveness and eliteness of the league.  This would be similar to what has occurred in the Okanagan Hockey League in recent years.
  25. The Kamloops Jr. Blazers (Thompson Zone) lead the OMAHA with a 10-1-0 record.  They are followed by Prince George at 9-3-1 and Vernon (South Zone) at 8-2-2.  Although some players have left for programs at POE and OHA Penticton, there is still some very good talent in this league that goes a bit underscouted.  Carter Yarish of Prince George leads in both goals with 12 and points with 24.
  26. At the start of the season we outlined the strength of the SBAAHL laying with the Prince Albert Pirates in the north and the Swift Current Broncos in the south.  That is exactly how things have played out.  The Pirates have been dominant with a 15-1-1 record and have allowed just 29 goals which is by far a league low.  The Swift Current Broncos are 17-1-0 and by far lead the south and have a league high 112 goals scored.
  27. Speaking of the Pirates and Broncos……The Pirates are littered with top prospects with a trio of forwards in Gabe Klassen, Ashton Ferster and Logan Cox all expected by our staff to go in the top 4 rounds.  Gabe Klassen is the top ranked Saskatchewan forward and leads the league in goals with 31 in 17 games and 2nd in points behind Blake Swelikoff with 48.  Marek Schneider on defence should be one of the first defenceman taken in the draft.  The Broncos have several potential draft picks as well led by D – Joe Arntsen and G – Justin Dueck who should go in the top 2-3 rounds.
  28. A story in the SBAAHL is the abundance of 2005 born peewee aged players who have made an immediate impact despite being 2 years younger than their competition in many cases.  Riley Heidt and Brayden Yager of the Martensville Marauders have held their own and more with Heidt sitting 12th in league scoring at the break with 16-17-33 and Yager 15th with 17-15-32.  Both players have played just 20 games.  Also, Kalan Lind sits in the top 10 in scoring and leads the league’s top team in scoring with 14-21-35 in 20 games.  Another 05 we have watched is big Joseph L’Heureux of the West Central Wheat Kings who has looked steady and strong already.
  29. Several other 05’s have found their way onto Western Canada bantam rosters and have had success led by Connor Bedard in West Vancouver and a couple in the AMBHL.  D – Mazden Leslie has gotten better and better as the season has progressed with the Lloydminster Heat.  Leslie has 6-6-12 with 57 PIMS in 20 games.  Kai Matthew of Edmonton SSAC has 3-9-12 and 44 PIMS in 23 games and has been good as well.
  30. Rink Hockey Academy have the majority of the top prospects from the province of Manitoba on their roster led by the provinces top F – Eric Alarie, Top D – Carson Lambos and top G – Tyler Brennan.  There are several other prospects though littered throughout the Winnipeg B1 league.  Highlighting the Winnipeg B1 league is scoring leader Conner Roulette of the Winnipeg Hawks who is the run away leader in goals with 33, which is 13 more than the next best player and his 68 points lead teammate Rory Neill by 18!
  31. Chaz Lucius of the Gentry Galaxy in Minnesota continues to dominate bantam hockey south of the border and is our #1 overall ranked prospect at the break.  Lucius is averaging nearly 4 PPG and if committed to the WHL would definitely challenge for #1 overall.  Lucius along with his 2004 born brother – Cruz Lucius have both committed to the University of Minnesota and the ship has likely sailed with them coming to the WHL.  He is the 2nd top 10 ranked WHL prospect to commit already.
  32. The LA Jr. Kings will be attending the up coming John Reid Memorial Tournament and should be a major threat to win it all.  They are coming off a major tournament win in Calgary at the Rocky Mountain Hockey Classic Tournament in an event which included the Northern Alberta Xtreme who they defeated in the tournament finale 5-4 in a thrilling shootout!  They also beat the Calgary Bisons 5-1, Delta Green 6-4 and tied NAX 2-2 in the preliminary round of that tournament.  The LA Jr. Kings despite losing many top players to the Shattuck St. Mary’s program (Alexander twins) still have many of the Western USA top players and they showed their talents in Calgary.
  33. Another team attending this years John Reid Memorial Tournament are those 20-0-0 St. George’s Varsity guys we were talking about earlier led by Trevor Wong.  Wong and his St. George’s team won the Medicine Hat Hockey Hounds Tournament with Wong leading the scoring race with 14-5-19 in 5 games.  St. George’s will also threatened those CSSHL Prep “big boys”!
  34. The first major tournament from the first half of the season was the Chilliwack International Challenge Cup where Northern Alberta Xtreme got by OHA Penticton 6-2 in the final.  All of the top teams were at the Chilliwack Tournament.  Matthew Savoie led the tournament in scoring with 22 points.  Northern Alberta and OHA Penticton are in the same pool at the JRMT.
  35. The crown jewel of Western Canada Bantam Tournaments and scouting takes place in St. Albert from January 18-21 with the John Reid Memorial Tournament.  I know we can’t wait for this event and after this, we are in the stretch run of playoffs, camps and all leading up to the bantam draft in early May!

Full rankings for the 2003, 2004 and a preliminary ranking of nearly 30 players for the 2005 age group can be seen in our 50+ page newsletter than goes out every 2nd week all season long.  We have a top 240 ranking for the 2003 age group and a top 180 for the 2004 age.  Each newsletter has many interviews, many scouting reports of players from around Western Canada and the USA and Western Canada team rankings can be viewed their as well!  Newsletter purchase options are available on the left side of the webpage if you are on a laptop or at the bottom of the page if you are using mobile.