I would just like to take this opportunity to wish all the readers of the blog and donators to the newsletter a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday season. If it weren't for the readers and all of you people, WEHP wouldn't exist and there simply wouldn't be an outlet for everyone to gather and talk bantam hockey.
This is the 3rd season of Western Elite Hockey Prospects and this season has been very interesting once again with many happenings across western Canada and the USA. So with that said, I thought we should look at the top 10 story lines up to the point in the season.
Tyler Benson/Kale Clague battle for 1st overall
- Since the beginning of the season, there has been a 1A and 1B for 1st overall in the WHL Bantam Draft. Benson is on a record breaking pace in the AMBHL and is on track for 152 points this season. Of course, as we have discussed on several different occasions that Ty Rattie hold the record with 131 in the 07-08 season. Kale Clague, now in his 3rd bantam season has been very dominant and also on track for a record breaking season for a defenceman. It will likely depend on who is picking first overall for the draft as to who goes first.
Jaeger White to BWC
- The biggest buzz entering the season was the move of Jaeger White from Medicine Hat to BWC. White has shown to be one of the more talented players in western Canada and has his BWC squad rated #1 one again in Western Canada. Having won the Medicine Hat Tournament, they will enter the St. Albert Tournament as the favorite. White has been a huge factor in the success and provides much of the offence on what is primarily a defensive type team. Of course we all remember the notorious 22-1 win over Cloverdale to which he had a 15 point game.
Nolan Patrick entering in the conversation for 1st overall
- Nolan Patrick was injured to the start the season and as a result was a bit of an enigma in that we really weren't sure how he would measure up to the top players. Moreover, he wasn't with the Winnipeg Hawks at the Medicine Hat Tournament. Since his return a few weeks ago, he has been head and shoulders above everyone in the Winnipeg AAA league and by head and shoulders, we aren't talking about his 6'2 175lb size! Patrick has 30 points in 9 games so far.
SSAC dominance of the AMBHL
- The annual powerhouse SSAC Southgate Lions have gotten off to a 19-0-1 start and have allowed less than 2 GPG while scoring 7 GPG. Led by arguably the top forward (Benson), one of the top defenceman (Quenneville) and top goalies (Skinner) - the Lions are able to dominate at the bantam level. Some top rookies for the Alberta Peewee Champions from 11-12 have contributed.
MLAC forward Ryan Jevne with 2 - 6 goal games.
- Ryan Jevne has shown to be a dominate goal scorer at times this season with 2 games to which he has scored 6 goals in a span of a couple weeks. He has also had 3 - 4 goal games this year.
Jordy Bellerive proving worthy of #1 ranking for 99 born players
- Bellerive has been one of the top offensive players in western Canada on one of western Canada's top teams. He currently leads NSWC in scoring with 46-30-76 in 37 games and is a plus-44. Fellow '99 born deserves an honorable mention on NSWC in G - Dorrin Luding with his 1.12 GAA and 14-2-2 record.
Vancouver Thunderbirds/PCAHA Banter
- This is for the message posters! In the three years that WEHP has been in existence, we have never seen so much back and forth banter - both good and bad, in one season. The Thunderbirds have a good enough team to be in the PCAHA Flight 1, case closed. Are they a top team? No. Are they a good team, Yes! Lets just leave it at that for the new year. The PCAHA has been very entertaining with the 2 winter clubs dominating again and a tier of several teams to follow.
The Academies are top teams again
- POE, Notre Dame and OHA continue to be top teams and be scrutinized as a result. I'm in agreement of what has been spoken about in regards to perhaps a "special division" of POE, Notre Dame, OHA, Edge School and heck even BWC and NSWC could be part of this division. I'm sure all these teams could travel and have several mini tournaments throughout the season and even join the other top teams in Medicine Hat and St. Albert. Something worth thinking about.
Lack of high end Saskatchewan Talent
- In the scouting world, it is evident that the common belief is that Saskatchewan is in a down turn for high end talent for the '13 bantam draft. We would be stunned if a player went in the top 10 picks at this point and some have suggested that it may be a stretch in even having a first rounder from the province. That is not to say there isn't depth, cause there is some depth, just not high end talent as in years past.
Northern Alberta - Cream of the crop for the draft!
The lower mainland dominated the '12 bantam draft with the likes of Barzal, Harkins, Gawdin, Musil, Ronning and Soy all high picks. In fact, the province of BC had 11- 1st round picks and 6 of the top 8. This year, the high end talent has clearly shifted to Alberta and more specifically Northern Alberta. Benson, Clague, Steel, Quenneville all have a very good chance on being top 10 picks and the province in general has a chance at matching the BC output of 11 first rounders if you include the players attending academies.