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Three Manitobans make their mark in Philly

Sanheim, Hawryluk, Lernout each snapped up by third round

Travis Sanheim

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Travis Sanheim (USA TODAY SPORTS)

IT wasn't a big NHL draft splash from Manitoba, but joy was running high in three homes after a weekend in which 30 teams selected 210 players.

Elkhorn's Travis Sanheim, the improving defenceman from the WHL's Calgary Hitmen, cracked the first round on Friday night, causing a stir with his selection by the hometown Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

On Saturday when the draft resumed with the second round, Roblin's Jayce Hawryluk of the Brandon Wheat Kings was the second name called, picked 32nd overall by the Florida Panthers.

And shortly after that, the Montreal Canadiens traded up to choose Winnipeg-born defenceman Brett Lernout of the WHL's Swift Current Broncos with the 73rd overall pick, midway through the third round.

Sanheim, just 18, was an instant celebrity in the City of Brotherly Love.

After his Hitmen were eliminated from the WHL playoffs, he went to play for Team Canada at the World Under-18 tournament, earning a bronze medal and praise for his steady play.

That performance helped continue his momentum up scouting lists and rankings. Having just graduated from midget hockey to the WHL, he was virtually off the draft radar at the start of the 2013-14 season.

"As I started to see my name in the rankings, it was a good feeling," Sanheim said. "And I ended up having a good second half."

The draft is only a starting point, Sanheim said.

"The biggest thing for me is getting a lot stronger and having a good summer in the gym," the 6-3, 181-pound blueliner said. "I'm looking to do that this summer."

Hawryluk, also 18, had 24 goals and 64 points for the Wheaties this season.

The right-winger said he still had nerves while the first 31 selections were being made, but said he had the comfort that Florida GM Dale Tallon had told him in an interview in Philadelphia last week he'd be the Panthers' pick if he was still available at No. 32.

"They told me they were going to take me and they honoured that," Hawryluk beamed after the pick. "I was super-thrilled."

In the third round, the Habs made a deal with the Arizona Coyotes to move up to the 73rd slot and chose Lernout, the rugged defenceman who charts at 6-4, 206 pounds.

The 18-year-old decided against attending the draft in Philadelphia, expecting only to be a mid- or late-round pick after registering eight goals and 22 points in his second WHL season.

"It's a dream come true," Lernout told the Free Press. "My family's really excited with our French-Canadian background."

Lernout's mother was born Jackie Bohemier.

Lernout likely did himself some great favours with his performance at the fitness testing at the NHL scouting combine in Toronto in late May. He was among the best of the prospects in several strength tests, including top ranks in several bench-press categories.

And he recalled a good interview with the Montreal brass there.

"They seemed quite interested so I had the idea I might go there," Lernout said.

The weekend also produced some extra good news for the Wheat Kings.

Centre John Quenneville was chosen with the 30th and final pick of the first round by the New Jersey Devils, while left-winger Richard Nejezchleb went to the New York Rangers at No. 122, early in the fifth round.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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