Nine talented teenage hockey players heard their names called as the Western Hockey League held its prospects draft earlier this month.
The WHL joins the Ontario and Quebec junior leagues in making up the Canadian Hockey League, the highest level of junior hockey in the nation. Student athletes eligible for the draft were 2007-born players residing in the four western provinces as well as Yukon and Northwest Territories, and 20 western states.
North Vancouver forward Ty Coupland, who suited up for the B.C. Elite Hockey League's Vancouver North West Hawks U15 AAA team this past season, was picked in the second round, 42nd overall, by the Swift Current Broncos.
In a congratulatory tweet on the North West Hawks official Twitter, U15 AAA head coach Chris Shaw said, "Ty has a high hockey IQ and elite offensive instincts. He has a pro release and shot that consistently finds the back of the net and can play in all situations."
Coupland’s teammate, North Vancouver defender Leith Hunter, heard his name called soon after, going in the third round, 50th overall, to the Prince George Cougars.
Two more North Vancouver players went off the board in the fifth round. Forward Koji Gibson, also with the Hawks U15 AAA team, was selected 101st overall by the Seattle Thunderbirds. Zach Pantelakis, a forward with the Canadian Sport School Hockey League's Delta Hockey Academy U15 prep green team, was picked 107th overall by the Kamloops Blazers.
North Vancouver forward Shea Busch, of the CSSHL’s Yale Hockey Academy’s U15 prep team, went in the sixth round, 121st overall, to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Fellow Yale academy player, West Vancouver centre Will Shepard was picked in the seventh round, 142nd overall, by the Prince Albert Raiders.
West Vancouver defender Trevor Oishi, another Hawks U15 AAA player, heard his name called in the ninth round, 194th overall, by the Portland Winterhawks.
North Vancouver defender Matson Waring, of the CSSHL’s Burnaby Winter Club Academy U15 prep squad, went in Round 10, 202nd overall, to the Vancouver Giants. The Giants also drafted Waring’s teammate Chloe Primerano, of North Vancouver, in the 13th round, 268th overall, making her the first female skater ever selected in a Canadian Hockey League draft.
In total, 240 players were selected by WHL teams, including 137 forwards, 78 defenders and 25 goaltenders.
In December, five 2006-born players from the North Shore were picked in a pair of WHL drafts delayed by COVID-19, including former North Vancouverite Macklin Celebrini, who went first overall in the 2021 U.S. prospects draft, by the Seattle Thunderbirds. North Vancouver’s Carson Wetsch, Logan Peskett and Liam Hoff as well as West Vancouver's Cohen (Coco) Armstrong went the next day in the Canadian prospects draft.
In 2020, North Vancouver's Connor Bedard made hockey history when he became the first player ever granted exceptional status to earn early entry into the WHL, and the Regina Pats made the 14-year-old forward their first overall pick in the draft.
Players aged 15 to 20 are eligible to play in the WHL, though 15-year-olds may play only five games unless their regular team's season has ended.