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Edge hockey well represented in WHL Bantam Draft

The 2018-19 season was a record-breaking one for the Edge Mountaineers prep bantam hockey team, with 11 players from the Springbank-based private school selected in the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) 2019 Bantam Draft, held May 3 in Red Deer, Alta.

 “It was a really good showing from our team this year,” said head coach Jeff Shantz. “I believe the most they’ve had in previous years is four off of one team.”

Drafted players include Jaren Brinson, Josh Davies, Rieger Lorenz, Liam Watkins, Daniel Hauser, Jackson Smith, Adam Hamilton, Josh Mettimano, Carter McLeod, Ayden Peters and Joah Morberg.

The Winnipeg Ice – which, until this year, was located in Cranbrook, B.C. – selected the most players from the Edge. The Ice drafted Lorenz, Mettimano and Hauser for its inaugural season in Manitoba’s capital.

Brinson, a defenseman, was the Edge’s highest-selected player. The Prince George Cougars took the 15-year-old blue liner in the second round, as the 36th overall pick.

“He’s a very good skater and very smart defensively,” Shantz said. “He uses his stick very well, skates well, handles the puck well and is able to make plays.

“He’s also super competitive, which, as a coach, I love. He wants to get better every day, asks lots questions and wants lots of feedback. He’s definitely bought in to being a good player and wanting to be a good player.”

The Mountaineers finished ninth in the 15-team bantam prep division of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) in 2018-19, with a 14-15-1 record. In the 2019 CSSHL Championships, held March 7 to 17 in Penticton, B.C., the team skated to a 2-1-0 record.

The Edge wasn’t the only CSSHL team to see plenty of players selected in the draft this year – CSSHL programs were a common picking ground for WHL teams, with 85 players drafted from the nationwide private school league.

According to Shantz, there are many benefits to playing in the CSSHL, which major junior league teams have started to recognize when selecting their future players.

“I know a number of scouts, and they look at these kinds of programs as being ones where they know the kids are coming through here and being taught the right things,” Shantz said.

“It’s such a great environment for kids who want to get better. Not just from a hockey perspective, but from a training, schooling and athletic perspective, and even a character perspective.”

Amenities and resources offered at the Edge or other CSSHL schools, such as fitness facilities, strength and conditioning coaches, sports psychologists and physiotherapists, provide a near-professional atmosphere where the players can develop, Shantz added.

“For us, we’re on the ice or in the gym almost daily,” he said. “We could be on the ice every single day of the year, between playing and practicing. We obviously don’t do that to the kids because there are days where they do need rest and recovery, but we have the option, here at the school, to give the kids lots and lots of extra stuff.

“If they’re driven kids, which the kids on my team were, they’re going to get better really quick.”

Considering the Edge’s drafted players are all either 14 or 15 years old – still too young for junior hockey – they will most likely move up to the midget AAA level next year for further development. Then, they will try to crack their respective WHL teams’ rosters for the 2020-21 season.

“That’s the big thing, and the message to all the kids here at the school – that [getting drafted] is just the start,” Shantz said. “[They can’t] sit back and think they’ve made it already.”

Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, editor
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