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'Really excited to get things going': seven St. Albert Sabres drafted to WHL

More than a third of the provincial championship winning team selected

More than a third of the provincial championship winning St. Albert Sabres U15 AAA hockey club heard their names called in this year's Western Hockey League (WHL) prospect draft last week.

The first Sabre to be drafted was centre Ossie McIntyre, who was picked seventh overall by the Spokane Chiefs.

McIntyre dominated the Alberta Elite Hockey League (AEHL) at the U15 division last season as he led the league in points with 104 in just 34 regular-season games. His point total was 38 more than the league's second top point-getter, and his 55 goals on the season were 22 more than the second-highest total.

McIntyre said getting picked high in the draft was a boost of confidence, and he's hoping to bring his goal-scoring ability to the team when he eventually suits up.

“I'm just really excited to get things going in the WHL,” he said. “I'm hoping to go there and obviously score some goals, create offence and work with the boys to see what we can do get some wins.”

Spokane Chiefs general manager Matt Bardsley told the hosts of the WHL prospect draft show he thinks McIntyre is an “electric” player.

“We fell in love with the player, the person, the way he is on the ice, [and] what we really like about him is you can just see the energy,” Bardsley said. “His skill set is very, very high.”

“I think he's going to be a real exciting player for our fans and we're really excited to be able to select Ossie.”

It wasn't long after McIntyre another St. Albert Sabre was taken off draft boards across the league as the Medicine Hat Tigers picked forward Luke Ruptash 16th overall.

Ruptash had 28 goals and 29 assists in 29 regular-season games this past year with the Sabres, and his 95 penalty minutes trailed only Leduc Oil Kings defenceman Noah Galenza for the league lead.

The 14-year-old's rough and rowdy style of play was something he told the Gazette he's hoping to bring to the Tigers, but that's not to discount his scoring touch.

“Honestly, I think I've got a good set of hands and I think I can score,” he said.

Ruptash said it was an honour to get picked by the Tigers, and he'll be looking to make his impact right away as he'll be attending the team's rookie camp later this month.

“They are good organization, and it should be a good couple of years.”

The next Sabre to get selected was defenceman Jaxon Pisani, the youngest son of former Edmonton Oilers forward Fernando Pisani.

The former Oiler's offspring was picked 39th overall by the Everett Silvertips. With the Sabres this past season Pisani registered nine goals and 37 assists.

His 46 points were third among league defencemen.

Another Sabres defenceman, Nathan Castonguay, was then picked 76th overall by the Prince Albert Raiders.

Castonguay, who hails from Fort McMurray, had six goals and 24 assists in the regular season.

Sabres captain Colt Carter, originally from Drayton Valley, was picked 132nd overall by the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Carter, also a defenceman, led all U15 AEHL defencemen in points this year with 25 goals and 30 assists.

“I'm super grateful for being drafted to Lethbridge and am excited to start with their organization,” Carter said in a text message. “I'm hoping to bring my speed, hockey IQ and my leadership to help improve the team.”

Carter said he thought so many members of the team being drafted was a combination of individual ability and the way the team helped each other get better over the course of the season.

“I feel we all improved a good amount because of the way we created the competition and pushed each other,” he said.

Kai Richards, who was second only to McIntyre in team scoring this season, was drafted 151st overall by the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Richards' 22 goals and 40 assists also placed him fourth in league scoring, trailing McIntyre and two members of the Sherwood Park Flyers U15 AAA team: Devin Pelletier and Landon Horiachka.

The last Sabre to get drafted on May 9 was defenceman Ethan Fidelak, who was picked 204th overall by the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Fidelak, who at the age of 14 already stands at six-foot-three, had 13 assists in the regular season for the Sabres but failed to register a goal.

Like Ruptash, all of the draftees will likely get their first introduction to WHL action in the form of rookie camps or general preseason camps each team holds prior to the fall. 

Despite being drafted, none of the seven Sabres will be able to play full-time in the WHL next season as the league limits 15-year-olds to just five regular-season games until after their minor hockey season comes to an end. The five-game limit doesn't apply to players granted “exceptional” status prior to the WHL draft, such as defenceman Landon DuPont of Calgary, who was picked first overall this year by the Everett Silvertips.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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