WEHP Summer Feature – Top Stories to Watch for 17/18
- CSSHL Continues to Overtake Bantam Hockey
Since the inception of the CSSHL in the 09-10 season with Prep hockey and then the inception of a full bantam hockey league in the 14-15 season, with a four team league, the CSSHL has come to the point where most of the top players from all provinces are now part of. In the 14-15 season, the CSSHL had just four teams with Delta, POE, OHA and Edge where the majority of the players were British Columbia born prospects with Edge have some Alberta prospects. Two seasons ago, the league moved to a 6 team league with the addition of Shawnigan Lake where the majority of the top Vancouver Island prospects played as well as Yale Hockey Academy who had some of the top players that year for the bantam draft and dominated the high end portion of the rankings. Then this past year, the addition of OHA Edmonton, Notre Dame Hounds and Rink Hockey Academy gave players from all regions in Western Canada to be part of the league. It has become one-stop shopping for scouts in a sense as it gives scouts a chance to view the best on best for the most part. How the perennial powerhouse BWC Bruins will lose many of its top talents to the newly formed BWC Academy who will play in the prep division as well as St. Georges Academy who will play in the Varsity division. Northern Alberta and the AMBHL are losing many of their top North players to the NAX Academy while other clubs are forming and in both prep and varsity division. It could be argued that the Western Canada Bantam Hockey Champion should be the winner of the CSSHL Bantam Prep Division!
- #1 overall up for grabs entering 17/18 season
The #1 overall spot for the draft is up for grabs as our scouts are torn between up to six players who have shown the ability and many who have spent time in the past year at #1 in our rankings. Although nobody looks quite to the level at this point where Kaiden Guhle – last years #1 overall pick was, there are several intriguing prospects who could definitely emerge with the current #1 overall ranked player D – Carson Lambos the most likely at this point. There is also a mix of top forwards ranging for two-way guys, smaller skilled forwards aka Connor McClennon and big players like Zack Stringer or Sean Tschigerl.
- New kids on the block!
As mentioned in our first story, western Canada hockey continues to be overtaken by the expansion of the CSSHL and this year is no different. The Northern Alberta Extreme look to have formed a team who can threaten the league stalwarts such as Yale, Delta, RHA etc. with five of the top 40 prospects in Western Canada on the squad as well as the top 2004 born prospect in Western Canada heading to NAX.
- Rink Hockey Academy Continues to become “Team Manitoba”!
RHA boast the current Western Canada top ranked defenseman, top ranked goalie as well as a few other high first round ranked players. There is a very good chance we will see just a couple players from the province of Manitoba who aren’t on RHA who could land in the top three rounds of the draft.
- Should the John Reid Memorial Tournament winner be considered the Bantam Overall Champion?
It should be argued that the John Reid Memorial Tournament Champion should be crowned bantam champion for the season. The tournament features the top 12 Western Canada teams as well as a few USA teams each year. Those 12 teams are selected based on performance and who performs best at the November tournaments in Medicine Hat and Calgary. The tournament combines top league teams with all the top CSSHL teams with the CSSHL teams likely to make up over half of the tournament entry list this year. The Western Canada Bantam Championships will have two British Columbia teams this year who are considered AA by no fault of their own as well as what will be a very depleted Manitoba representative along with Alberta who should be the heavy favorite. Saskacthewan could see a strong representative due to many top prospects staying put at this point. Prince Albert looks strong. What are your thoughts on this?
- More provincial draft parity
In the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, Alberta and British Columbia dominated the top 10 selections as the first Saskatchewan or Manitoba prospect wasn’t taken until the 11th overall pick when Seth Jarvis was selected. This year, We could see as many as four and almost certainly three players taken within the top 10 and much more parity right through the 2nd round.
- Zack Stringer playing Midget Hockey
Zack Stringer won’t be playing a 3rd year of bantam hockey. Instead, he will be playing Midget AAA in Lethbridge. There have been a handful of players over the years try out Midget hockey in their final bantam hockey season with varying degrees of success. Will this affect Stringer’s chances of remaining a lottery pick with perhaps limited viewing and not being able to really compare his play with his peers? There will be a debate on this throughout the season. We like Stringer though!
- Airdrie Xtreme bouncing back at last?
For years, the Airdrie Xtreme were the cream of the crop in the AMBHL. It looks like they may return to at or near the top for the 17/18 season. Tristan Zandee comes over from Rocky Mountain to join the likes of high scoring forwards Craig Armstrong and Ty Mueller and also have high end defenseman Keegan Slaney and a top goalie with Nathan Airey. Look for Airdrie to have a big season in the AMBHL.
- BC Hockey hosting the WCBHC
The large majority of the top players from British Columbia are on the many academy teams, so it is hard to say which two teams will be representing BC at the WCBHC. The bid process for host has closed. Look for a southern Alberta team to be a heavy favorite to win Westerns this year.
**If you have many top stories you would like to share and have posted for conversation. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or post under the comments section!