Eight OHA players nabbed in WHL draft

The Okanagan Hockey Academy had eight players selected during the Western Hockey League’s bantam draft May 2.

The Okanagan Hockey Academy had eight players selected during the Western Hockey League’s bantam draft May 2.

Beck Malenstyn was the first to go in the opening round, 18th overall by the Calgary Hitmen. He was followed Davis Koch at 42nd, Ryan Bowen 94th, Andy Stevens 98th, Darren Rizzolo 153rd, Brodie Wilms 161st, Sahvan Khaira 181st and Walker Cote at 192nd.

“We could not be happier for all the players who were rewarded in the WHL draft,” said head coach Mike Needham in a release. “While getting drafted is a nice achievement, all of our players will get an opportunity to showcase themselves at the next level. This is only the beginning. The real work starts now.”

Malenstyn, in his second year with the OHA, has seen his stock rise with consistent physical play. He led the OHA bantam Red squad with 107 points in 53 games. Koch was next, going to the Edmonton Oil Kings. Koch’s ability to see the ice separated him from the competition. Also, in his second season, Koch catapulted himself into the spotlight with strong showings at Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament and the B.C. Cup.

Bowen was chosen by Moose Jaw Warriors in the 4th round. Bowen’s calling card is his skating. A powerful, effortless skater, Ryan has the ability to be a steady future WHL player.

Stevens has all the earmarks of a big, strong WHL defenceman. Stevens was selected in the fifth round by the Kootenay Ice. Stevens had impressive showings at KIBIHT, B,C. CUP.

Rizzolo is in his first season and was selected in the seventh round by the Warriors. Rizzolo possesses puck moving abilities, competitiveness and skating. The Warriors then selected Wilms in the eighth round. Wilms put together a strong season and is seen as one of the more athletic goaltenders in the draft. The OHA said he’s worked hard on his rebound control and formed a great duo with Aris Anagnostopolous.

Khaira, a ninth-round selection of the Seattle Thunderbirds, hopes to follow in his older brother’s (Jujhar) footsteps, who was drafted to the Edmonton Oilers last season. Khaira is known for his puck movement ability and brings a nasty edge.

Cote was the last player drafted, selected by the Spokane Chiefs in the ninth round. Cote is known for bringing a consistent effort to the rink every day and has a good understanding of the game.