Four players from St. Albert heard their name called during last Thursday’s Western Hockey League (WHL) bantam draft, three of them from the U18 AAA Nektar Raiders.
Forward Teo Pisani, 15, was the first of the Raiders to go off the board. The Edmonton Oil Kings picked Pisani in the fourth round with the 89th overall selection.
Pisani received the news in school and was ecstatic to not only fulfill a childhood dream but to also stay close to home.
“It felt really good, I was super excited, it’s always something I’ve looked to accomplish,” said Pisani. “I don’t have to move anywhere, I can just stay at home, so that’s a big thing.”
Pisani has tallied seven goals and 18 points in 21 games with Raiders so far this season.
Next up from the Raiders was goaltender Christian Francis, 15, who was taken in the sixth round 123rd overall by the Calgary Hitmen. Like Pisani, it has been a dream to get drafted into the WHL and he is anxious to start his junior career in Calgary.
“I’m really excited to go into a really great program close to home,” said Francis. “It’s a new opportunity to go to the next level and go where I want to go.”
Francis has appeared in 11 games with the Raiders so far, picking up seven wins and posting a .905 save percentage.
Last up on the draft sheet from the Raiders was forward Jacob Goudreau, 15. The Vancouver Giants selected Goudreau in the eighth round with the 178th overall pick. Goudreau is relieved to be a member of the Giants organization and is happy he can settle his nerves and focus on the hockey part of things now.
“I tried not to think about [the draft] in the first part of the season,” said Goudreau. “In late November and early December it got into my mind, but it’s going to be a nice weight off my mind now.”
In 21 games with the Raiders, Goudreau has posted six goals and six assists for a tidy 12 points.
St. Albert U15 AAA Tetz Powell Flyers forward Turner McIntyre, 15, was the lone player from that team to find himself drafted. The Winnipeg Ice selected McIntyre in the 217th overall in the tenth round.
It was a nerve-wracking experience to see if his name would get called but the wait ended up being worth it.
“I was on my couch scrolling through the draft on my phone and I saw my name,” said McIntyre. “It was just me and my mom at home and we were both just really excited.”
McIntyre has been having himself a season with the Flyers, scoring 24 points in 17 games thus far.
These young men won’t be going anywhere yet. Getting drafted is just the first step of many if these players hope to make the jump to junior hockey. They will continue to play out their season with their respective teams with the added motivation of showing their drafted teams that they have what it takes to get to the next step.
St. Albert will get a chance to see these newly minted WHL draft picks in action when the Raiders play host to the Leduc Wilhauk Jerky Oil Kings this Wednesday and the Tetz Powell Flyers welcome in the Maple Leaf Athletic Club (MLAC) Alberta Screw Piles Leafs on Thursday. Both games will be at Jarome Iginla Arena.