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WHL Notebook: Wheat Kings pass combine tests

Jayce Hawryluk and John Quenneville have made their pitches.

Now the Brandon Wheat Kings forwards will wait to find out their fate in the National Hockey League’s entry draft.

Hawryluk and Quenneville both took part in the NHL’s scouting combine last week in Toronto along with Elkhorn native Travis Sanheim. Hawryluk, in particular, made a strong case in the fitness testing with the 5-foot-10, 190-pound right-winger from Roblin placing in the top 10 in several testing categories among more than 100 prospects for this year’s draft.

“Going in that’s one of my attributes that’s a key to me is my work ethic and just working hard and giving it my all,” said Hawryluk, 18. “Every event I had I left it all out there and just tried to push myself to my absolute max and hoped for the best.”

Among his results, Hawryluk tied for second by doing 12 pull-ups and shared ninth-place by bench-pressing 150 pounds 14 times. He led one of the agility tests, was third in the Wingate bike test, measuring anaerobic power, and had the ninth-longest standing long jump. It was an impressive showing that likely answered any questions lingering from his hospitalization after feeling light-headed following a playoff game in March.

Quenneville and Sanheim had their moments as well. Quenneville paced the field in one of the jumping tests, while Sanheim was fourth in an agility test.

“The fitness testing wasn’t the funnest thing I’ve ever done, but it was an interesting experience, that’s for sure,” said Quenneville, an 18-year-old centre.

“I had practised the things I did at the combine before I came, but it was weird (having) a lot of different eyes on you while you’re trying to do all the different exercises, so it made it a lot tougher.”

The fitness testing was only one part of the equation. Prior to that, the prospects were grilled by braintrusts from the majority of NHL teams, with Quenneville talking to 27 teams while Hawryluk was interviewed by 19.

“It was a little bit intimidating at the start but as the week wore on you get more comfortable with the interviews and it was fun,” Hawryluk said.

“Honestly there’s really no preparing for the interviews. You just be yourself.”

No that the process is over, the prospects have gone back to their training, with Hawryluk and Sanheim working out together in Brandon, while Quenneville is back home in Edmonton.

All three are good bets to be chosen early in the draft, set for June 27 and 28 in Philadelphia. Sanheim soared up the draft boards during his WHL rookie season with the Calgary Hitmen with the defenceman now considered a potential first-rounder. He was graded an eye-popping eighth overall in the rankings released by TSN analyst Craig Button on Tuesday.

Quenneville was 44th on Button’s list, one spot ahead of Hawryluk, while fellow Wheat King Richard Nejezchleb was 95th. But Quenneville said he’s not letting those thoughts enter his mind right now.

“The draft is kinda on hold right now until I actually go there and experience that in Philly,” he said. “But for right now I’m just worried about next season and getting better.”

PRINCE-LY DEAL: The Prince Albert Raiders and Prince George Cougars have swapped three forwards.

The Raiders have acquired Jordan Tkatch, who will be 19 in the upcoming season, and a sixth-round pick in the 2016 WHL bantam draft from the Cougars in exchange for Chance Braid, 20, and Lance Yaremchuk, 18. Tkatch tallied 46 points last season, while Braid had 24 and Yaremchuk had only three, spending most of his season in midget with the national champion Prince Albert Mintos.

The move gets the Raiders down to six overage candidates for three spots, including Brandonite Carson Perreaux.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 4, 2014

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