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Wheat Kings welcome Mattheos

Winnipegger Stelio Mattheos was all smiles while meeting the media on Thursday after being selected first overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL bantam draft.

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Winnipegger Stelio Mattheos was all smiles while meeting the media on Thursday after being selected first overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL bantam draft. (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

When the Brandon Wheat Kings found everything they were looking for, all wrapped up in a single package, it made their first decision of draft day a simple one.

The Wheat Kings did as many observers expected on Thursday, choosing Winnipegger Stelio Mattheos with the first overall pick of the Western Hockey League bantam draft.

Holding the first pick for the first time in draft history thanks to a trade with the Saskatoon Blades two years ago and some good fortune in March’s draft lottery, Wheat Kings head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon was determined to walk out of yesterday’s draft in Calgary with the best available player. After going over all of his team’s scouting reports and speaking with Mattheos and his family, McCrimmon was confident he knew who that player was.

"(Mattheos has) size, skill, character, skating ability. Really a good young player," McCrimmon said. "He, I think, is going to really continue to develop and he’s going to be a power forward that’s a real good player for our organization and a real hard player to play against."

Mattheos is already close to 6-foot-3 and, more than a month short of his 15th birthday, he has plenty of time to fill out his 177-pound frame before he’s eligible to play full-time in the WHL in the 2015-16 season. The centre also has tremendous on-ice credentials, having led the Winnipeg Bantam AAA league with 53 goals and 103 points in only 32 games this season, helping his Winnipeg Monarchs reach the western Canadian championship in Kelowna, B.C., where he scored three times in four games.

Also an excellent student, Mattheos has plenty of options for his future, but he said he’s "totally committed" to the Wheat Kings and anxious to start preparing for the WHL with a busy summer of training followed by a season of Midget AAA hockey with the Winnipeg Wild.

"I’m really happy that Brandon had the confidence to pick me, and I’m really pumped to be a Wheat King now," he said. "… I’m ready to get started for sure."

Mattheos joins an impressive stable of blue-chip Brandon prospects, including fellow Winnipegger Nolan Patrick and defenceman Kale Clague, who were chosen fourth and sixth, respectively, in last year’s draft. He’s the first Manitoban to be selected first overall since the Moose Jaw Warriors picked Quinton Howden in the 2007 draft — a badge of honour Mattheos said he will wear with pride.

"It really means a lot to me, being a proud Manitoban, and getting picked number one overall was a goal of mine," he said. "And it feels really good to accomplish that goal and go to the Wheat Kings."

Following the Wheat Kings’ selection of Mattheos, the Lethbridge Hurricanes used the second pick on high-scoring centre Jordan Bellerive, who was widely seen as the other contender to be chosen first. Defenceman Nolan Kneen, who played with Bellerive on B.C.’s North Shore Winter Club last season, was chosen third by the Kamloops Blazers, with the Moose Jaw Warriors picking blue-liner Josh Brook of Roblin fourth overall.

In all, 34 Manitobans were chosen in the draft, with the Wheat Kings taking six of them, including Brandonite Connor Gutenberg. They went to Alberta for three straight picks, starting in the second round with defenceman Ian Mitchell, who was chosen 31st overall out of the Parkland Athletic Club Saints in Spruce Grove, Alta.

"Tremendous skater, tremendous skill, puck-moving offensive defenceman," McCrimmon said of the 5-foot-9, 150-pound Mitchell, who had 21 points in 24 games for his Bantam AAA team this season and was named an all-star in the Alberta Cup on the weekend. "(Mitchell is the) captain of his team, a really talented player."

Rounding up the rest of Brandon’s 11 selections:

• Defenceman Jarrod Gourlay was chosen in the third round after tallying 29 points in 32 games for the Calgary Bisons.

• Brandon’s fourth-round selection was right-winger Jeremy Klessens of Red Deer, Alta., who scored 27 goals in 31 games.

• Gutenberg, who led the Bantam AAA Wheat Kings in scoring, was picked in the fifth round, along with goalie Hunter Arps, who had a 2.34 goals-against average for Saskatchewan’s North East Wolfpack.

• Centre James McIssac was picked in the sixth round after notching 32 goals and 58 points in 31 games for the Winnipeg Warriors.

• After having no picks in the seventh round, the Wheat Kings used their eighth-rounder on right-winger Leif Mattson, who led the Interlake Lightning with 35 goals and 68 points in 33 games.

• Defenceman Dane Hirst, who had 16 points in 33 games with the Eastman Selects, was picked in the ninth round.

•Brandon’s 10th-round pick was another goalie, Justin Klassen, who had a 4.40 GAA for the Central Plains Capitals.

•In the 11th round, the Wheat Kings took a flyer on Minnesota high schooler Mikey Anderson, whose brother Joey was drafted by Brandon last year. Both Andersons have committed to play at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.


First Round Picks:

1. Brandon, C Stelio Mattheos, 6-3, 177 pounds,

Winnipeg Bantam AAA Monarchs

2. Lethbridge, C Jordy Bellerive, 5-9, 180,

NSWC (N.Vancouver) Bantam AAA Winterhawks

3. Kamloops, D Nolan Kneen, 5-10, 165,

NSWC (N.Vancouver) Bantam AAA Winterhawks

4. Moose Jaw, D Josh Brook, 5-10, 148,

Notre Dame (Wilcox, Sask.) Bantam AAA Hounds

5. Prince George, C Justin Almeida, 5-7, 130,

NSWC (N.Vancouver) Bantam AAA Winterhawks

6. Red Deer, C Jake Leschyshyn, 5-8, 145,

Saskatoon Bantam AA Stallions

7. Tri-City, C Michael Rasmussen, 6-2, 180,

OHA (Penticton, B.C.) Bantam Prep Red

8. Vancouver, C Dawson Holt, 5-11, 165,

Saskatoon Bantam AA Generals

9. Prince Albert, G Ian Scott, 6-2, 156,

Calgary Northstar Bantam AAA Sabres

10. Vancouver, C Brendan Semchuk, 5-10, 160,

Kamloops Bantam AAA Blazers

11. Kootenay, D Griffin Mendel, 6-1, 185,

OHA (Penticton B.C.) Bantam Prep Red

12. Swift Current, D Dominic Schmiemann, 6-3, 170,

Notre Dame (Wilcox, Sask.) Bantam AAA Hounds

13. Regina, G Jordan Hollett, 6-2, 175,

OHA (Penticton, B.C.) Bantam Prep Red

14. Spokane, C Jaret Anderson-Dolan, 5-10, 167,

Edge (Calgary) Bantam Mountaineers

15. Everett, D Jantzen Leslie, 6-0, 167,

Lloydminster (Alta.) Bantam AAA Heat

16. Seattle, D Jarret Tyszka, 6-1, 165,

Langley (B.C.) Bantam AAA Eagles

17. Medicine Hat, C James Hamblin, 5-8, 135,

SSAC (Edmonton) Bantam AAA Lions

18. Victoria, D Scott Walford, 6-0, 185,

OHA (Penticton, B.C.) Bantam Prep Red

19. Portland, C Cody Glass, 5-9, 138,

Winnipeg Bantam AAA Hawks

20. Edmonton, LW Kobe Mohr, 5-9, 159,

Lloydminster (Alta.) Bantam AAA Heat

21. Kelowna, D Jonathan Smart, 5-11, 170,

OHA (Penticton, B.C.) Bantam Prep Red

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 2, 2014

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