Connor Gutenberg would love to play in the Western Hockey League for his hometown Brandon Wheat Kings, but now he knows that if something doesn’t work out, he can play Junior A relatively close to home.
The 5-foot-9, 130-pound centre, who was taken in the fifth round of the WHL bantam draft by Brandon, was a first-round pick in Sunday’s Manitoba Junior Hockey League draft.
The 14-year-old was taken ninth overall by the Swan Valley Stampeders in a move that caught Gutenberg off-guard.
“I was a little surprised in the fact that they never really contacted me,” he said. “I was really happy. I was happy with where I went and when I went.”
Gutenberg was following the draft on his phone Sunday morning and celebrated by calling his parents and then going out for a round of golf.
While his Brandon team struggled in the Winnipeg AAA Bantam Division 1 league this season, Gutenberg had a solid year.
He was involved in more than half of his team’s 74 goals, scoring 20 and setting up 20 more while registering only six penalty minutes in 32 games. The Wheat Kings posted a 10-21-1 mark in the league.
Gutenberg has heard good things about the Stampeders organization and would be happy to join them if his initial dream of playing for the Wheat Kings doesn’t work out.
“My goal is to play in the WHL, but knowing that I have a second plan in the MJ is pretty nice,” he said.
Gutenberg was one of four Brandonites to be taken in Sunday’s draft. Defenceman Sam Huston was selected by the Portage Terriers in the third round, while forward Carson Boyechko was taken by Swan Valley in the sixth round. Defenceman Tanner Gaudry also went in the sixth round, although he was selected by the Virden Oil Capitals.
Forward Bradley Marshall from Ste. Rose was taken first overall by the Neepawa Natives, while the Oil Capitals used their first-round pick on Stonewall forward Leif Mattson.
The Waywayseecappo Wolverines selected forward Kolby Chen from Deloraine in the second round, while the Dauphin Kings waited until the third round before they got to pick, which they used on forward Jaden Townsend of Roblin.
Wawanesa forward Brian Harris and Douglas forward Reg Pohl were taken in the second round of the MJHL draft as well, with Harris going to the Stampeders and OCN snagging Pohl.
For full results, see Page B4.