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WHL Notebook: Wheat Kings looking out for No.1

» WHL Notebook

After stealing the show early in last year’s Western Hockey League bantam draft, the Brandon Wheat Kings enter tomorrow’s draft as the headliner.

Brandon holds the No.1 pick in the draft, for players born in 1999, as part of the 2012 trade that sent Brenden Walker to the Saskatoon Blades, and head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said it’s an opportunity the Wheat Kings have been looking forward to.

AROUND THE WHL:

After a nightmarish season both on and off the ice, the Lethbridge Hurricanes and WHL commissioner Ron Robison appeared before Lethbridge city council on Monday, with Robison saying the league is committed to keeping the Alberta city as a market and would oversee a new business plan for the team.

“We need to make sure, from an accountability perspective, that (the Hurricanes are) meeting the objectives within the business plan both financially and in the on-ice performance,” Robison told the media.

News also broke in Lethbridge on Monday that the Hurricanes are being sued by former assistant coach Brad Lukowich for wrongful dismissal.

• • •

The WHL’s board of governors is expected to approve the sales of the Regina Pats and the Prince George Cougars to new ownership groups today.

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Portland LW Brendan Leipsic will miss the Winterhawks’ opening game of the WHL final against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday after being suspended one game for spearing.

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Winterhawks C Nic Petan has been named the Canadian Hockey League player of the week after notching three goals and four assists in the final three games of Portland’s Western Conference final victory over the Kelowna Rockets.

“We’re very excited about selecting first overall, the first time in franchise history, so that will be special for our fans and our organization,” he said. “And at the same time, given that we know we have the first selection, it allows us to focus on the balance of the draft, which of course was very important as well.”

Last year, some savvy draft-day dealing gave the Wheat Kings two of the top six picks, allowing them to select centre Nolan Patrick and defenceman Kale Clague, both ranked by many scouts as potential franchise players. This year’s draft is not considered to have the same kind of blue-chip talent, but two players stand out from the crop and the Wheat Kings are believed to be choosing between forwards Stelio Mattheos of the Winnipeg Monarchs and Jordy Bellerive of North Vancouver’s North Shore Winter Club, with the Manitoban considered to be the front-runner.

The 5-foot-10, 177-pound Bellerive plays a north-south power game and may be the more polished finisher of the two, having led his team to the western Canadian bantam title with two goals and two assists in the championship game. But scouts are enamoured with Mattheos’s long-term potential and he has an impressive blend of speed, size (listed at 6-foot-1, 174 pounds) and skill (53 goals, 103 points in 32 Winnipeg Bantam AAA Hockey League games).

“I like them both, but I think Stelio has a bit more upside,” one WHL scout told the Sun.

It’s an enviable position for a Brandon scouting staff that was retooled last summer after the retirement of respected director of player personnel Al Macpherson, with Wade Klippenstein joining the Wheat Kings as director of scouting while Mark Johnston returned to the organization as the head scout.

“We’ve all scouted together in the same rinks and the same circles for a long time and to have our staff come together the way we did this year I think was a real compliment to everyone involved,” Klippenstein said. “Guys are excited to be part of the Brandon Wheat King purpose, and it was a good year on the road and guys are excited to go shopping Thursday morning.”

While Mattheos and Bellerive are ranked as the top forwards, the outlook on the blue-line is a little cloudy. Max Gildon, who played for the Dallas Stars Elite under-16 team this season, would be a high pick —perhaps even first overall — if teams were convinced he would commit to the WHL. Nolan Kneen, who played with Bellerive, is another high-end blue-liner, while Roblin’s Josh Brook has rocketed up draft boards this season while playing at Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask., and could reach the top half of the first round.

Brook leads a western Manitoba contingent that includes Brandon Bantam AAA Wheat Kings teammates Connor Gutenberg and Sam Huston as well as Southwest Bantam AAA Cougars defenceman Cody Thompson.

While there are not many surefire picks from Westman, there will be a number of others who will at least be given consideration, including Cougar Rylan Rommelaere, who was rated by scouts as the top goalie in the region.

AROUND THE WHL: After a nightmarish season both on and off the ice, the Lethbridge Hurricanes and WHL commissioner Ron Robison appeared before Lethbridge city council on Monday, with Robison saying the league is committed to keeping the Alberta city as a market and would oversee a new business plan for the team. “We need to make sure, from an accountability perspective, that (the Hurricanes are) meeting the objectives within the business plan both financially and in the on-ice performance,” Robison told the media. News also broke in Lethbridge on Monday that the Hurricanes are being sued by former assistant coach Brad Lukowich for wrongful dismissal … The WHL’s board of governors is expected to approve the sales of the Regina Pats and the Prince George Cougars to new ownership groups today … Portland LW Brendan Leipsic will miss the Winterhawks’ opening game of the WHL final against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday after being suspended one game for spearing … Winterhawks C Nic Petan has been named the Canadian Hockey League player of the week after notching three goals and four assists in the final three games of Portland’s Western Conference final victory over the Kelowna Rockets.

FIRST-ROUND PROSPECTS

The Brandon Sun’s list of possible first-round selections in Thursday’s WHL Bantam Draft, compiled from interviews with scouts from across the league (team selecting in parentheses):

1. (Brandon) C Stelio Mattheos, 6-1, 174 pounds,

Winnipeg Bantam AAA Monarchs

2. (Lethbridge) C Jordy Bellerive, 5-10, 177,

NSWC (North Vancouver) Bantam AAA Winterhawks

3. (Kamloops) D Max Gildon, 6-2, 171,

Dallas Stars Elite U16

4. (Moose Jaw) D Nolan Kneen, 5-11, 165,

NSWC (North Vancouver) Bantam AAA Winterhawks

5. (Prince George) C Justin Almeida, 5-9, 140,

NSWC (North Vancouver) Bantam AAA Winterhawks

6. (Red Deer) C Brendan Semchuk, 5-11, 165,

Kamloops (B.C.) Blazers Bantam AAA

7. (Tri-City) RW Zane Franklin, 5-8, 190,

Lloydminster (Alta.) Bantam AAA Heat

8. (Vancouver) LW Michael Rasmussen, 6-2, 180,

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

9. (Prince Albert) C Jake Leschyshyn, 5-8, 145,

Saskatoon Bantam AA Stallions

10. (Vancouver) D Scott Walford, 5-11, 172,

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

11. (Kootenay) C Dawson Holt, 5-10, 165,

Saskatoon Bantam AA Generals

12. (Swift Current) D Josh Brook, 5-10, 155,

Notre Dame (Wilcox, Sask.) Bantam AAA Hounds

13. (Regina) RW Josh Paterson, 6-2, 177,

SSAC (Edmonton) Bantam AAA Lions

14. (Spokane) C Jaret Anderson-Dolan, 5-10, 177

Edge (Calgary) Bantam Mountaineers

15. (Everett) G Ian Scott, 6-2, 156,

Calgary Northstar Bantam AAA Sabres

16. (Seattle) D Dominic Schmiemann, 6-3, 170,

Notre Dame (Wilcox., Sask.) Bantam AAA Hounds

17. (Medicine Hat) D Jantzen Leslie, 6-0, 165,

Lloydminster (Alta.) Bantam AAA Heat

18. (Victoria) C James Malm, 5-8, 155,

BWC (B.C.) Bantam AAA Bruins

19. (Portland) G Jordan Hollett, 6-2, 160,

OHA (Penticton, B.C.) Bantam Prep Red

20. (Edmonton) D Max Martin, 5-11, 178,

Winnipeg Bantam AAA Monarchs

21. (Kelowna) D Griffin Mendel, 6-1, 180,

OHA (Penticton, B.C.) Bantam Prep Red

Other candidates: D Dylan Plouffe, 5-10, 206, Sherwood Park (Alta.) Bantam AAA Flyers; D Nick Watson, 6-0, 170, BWC (Burnaby, B.C.) Bantam AAA Bruins; D Jarret Tyszka, 6-1, 165, Langley (B.C.) Bantam AAA Eagles; D Ethan King, 6-4, 200, POE (Kelowna, B.C.) Bantam AAA; C Ryan Peckford, 5-11, 164, Spruce Grove (Alta.) Bantam AAA Saints.

Note: There are only 21 first-round picks because Portland’s selection was forfeited as part of sanctions levied against the Winterhawks by the WHL in 2012. Portland traded back into the first round, acquiring Calgary’s pick.

MANITOBA’S TOP 10

1. C Stelio Mattheos, 6-1, 174 pounds,

Winnipeg Bantam AAA Monarchs

2. D Josh Brook, 5-10, 155,

Notre Dame (Wilcox, Sask.) Bantam AAA Hounds

3. D Max Martin, 5-11, 178,

Winnipeg Bantam AAA Monarchs

4. C Logan Christensen, 5-9, 158,

POE (Kelowna, B.C.) Bantam AAA

5. LW Brett Davis, 5-10, 140,

Notre Dame (Wilcox, Sask.) Bantam AAA Hounds

6. C James McIsaac, 5-10, 142,

Winnipeg Bantam AAA Warriors

7. D Cody Thompson, 6-3, 190,

Southwest Bantam AAA Cougars

8. RW Hayden Ostir, 5-7, 146,

POE (Kelowna, B.C.) Bantam AAA

9. RW Wyatt Bear, 6-1, 180,

Interlake Bantam AAA Lightning

10. C Connor Gutenberg, 5-8, 133,

Brandon Bantam AAA Wheat Kings

Other candidates: C Cody Glass, 5-10, 123, Winnipeg Bantam AAA Hawks; G Dylan Myskiw, 6-0, 142, Wpg. Bantam AAA Hawks; D Dane Hirst 6-0, 175, Eastman Bantam AAA Selects.

WESTERN MANITOBA’S TOP 5

1. D Josh Brook, 5-10, 155 pounds,

Notre Dame (Wilcox, Sask.) Bantam AAA Hounds

2. D Cody Thompson, 6-3, 190,

Southwest Bantam AAA Cougars

3. C Connor Gutenberg, 5-8, 133,

Brandon Bantam AAA Wheat Kings

4. D Sam Huston, 6-2, 165,

Brandon Bantam AAA Wheat Kings

5. LW Connor Dewar, 5-5, 132,

Parkland Bantam AAA Rangers

.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 30, 2014

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After stealing the show early in last year’s Western Hockey League bantam draft, the Brandon Wheat Kings enter tomorrow’s draft as the headliner.

Brandon holds the No.1 pick in the draft, for players born in 1999, as part of the 2012 trade that sent Brenden Walker to the Saskatoon Blades, and head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said it’s an opportunity the Wheat Kings have been looking forward to.

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After stealing the show early in last year’s Western Hockey League bantam draft, the Brandon Wheat Kings enter tomorrow’s draft as the headliner.

Brandon holds the No.1 pick in the draft, for players born in 1999, as part of the 2012 trade that sent Brenden Walker to the Saskatoon Blades, and head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said it’s an opportunity the Wheat Kings have been looking forward to.

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