KELOWNA - The Kelowna Rockets selected 10 players at the Western Hockey League's bantam draft on Wednesday in Calgary, picking mostly B.C. players as well as several youngsters with size and skill.
The Rockets picked eight players from B.C. and two from the USA with its 10 selections in the draft. After finishing first in the WHL this season, the Rockets picked last overall and didn't have a second or third round pick due to trades made earlier.
"Considering our position in the draft and the fact we didn't have a lot of early picks, we're pretty optimistic," Rockets assistant general manager Lorne Frey said. "We got a lot of kids with size who can skate. We'll see how it all pans out over the next couple of years. Overall we're satisfied."
Picking 22nd overall the Rockets selected local hockey product Jonathan Smart with its first round selection. Smart moved to Kelowna when he was five, played Kelowna Minor Hockey until his first year bantam and then played last season at Okanagan Hockey Academy.
"We were pleased to get Jonathan," Frey said. "We were zeroed in on him and we were happy he was still available. The big thing about him is his intelligence."
After not having picks in the second and third rounds, Kelowna nabbed two players with older brothers playing in the WHL this past season with its two picks in the fourth round.
First Kelowna drafted Cooper Haar, a 6-foot-3 left-wing from Huntington Beach, California whose older brother Garrett played for Portland. Then the team selected centre Jordan Sandhu from Richmond, whose older brother Tyler played for Everett.
Frey said he tried to target players who had a package of skill, size and compete.
"We're always looking for the best player when it comes to our pick," he said. "You want guys that are bigger but they have to be able to compete. I think the guys we got today have a lot of ability."
Here's a look at the rest of the Rockets 2014 bantam draft picks with round, position and hometown:
6. Conner Bruggen-Cate, LW, Langley, B.C.
6. Colby Bukes, D, Littleton, Colorado
8. Jacob Kennedy, F, Delta, B.C.
10. David Laurin, RW, Langley, B.C.
10. Matteo Paler-Chow, G, Vancouver, B.C.
10. Nick Nordstrom, D, Terrace, B.C.
11. Kyle Topping, C, Ganges, B.C.
Non-North American players can be added in Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, held in June.
Players not chosen during the draft can be listed by teams following the draft.
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