A Penticton hockey player is Washington State-bound after being selected in the first round of this year’s Western Hockey League (WHL) Draft.
Mathis Preston, 14, was sitting at home on the couch in front of the TV with friends and family Thursday morning, May 11, when he heard his name called at No. 3 overall by the Spokane Chiefs.
“It’s surreal,” Preston told the Western News after the selection. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little kid.”
Preston has spent parts of the last three seasons playing at the Okanagan Hockey Academy, posting a total of 130 points in 59 games.
The born-and-raised Pentictonite was the first player from B.C. selected in the WHL Draft.
“It’s really special,” he said. “Just being from here, it’s pretty cool to be one of the only Penticton guys to be drafted.”
Scouts ranked Preston as a top-three pick ahead of the draft.
The Prince Albert Raiders owned the first two picks and opted to take a pair of Alberta-born players.
That’s when Preston suspected he’d be heading south of the border.
He says he’s never been to Spokane, but can’t wait to get started with the two-time Memorial Cup champions.
“I’ve heard it’s a really beautiful place,” Preston said. “Spokane couldn’t be a better organization to go to…I’m so excited.”
Preston will turn 15-years-old on July 21.
After the Chiefs’ selection, three more players from the Okanagan were taken in the WHL draft’s first round.