By: Bruce Luebke, Sports Director, 880 CKLQ

The final tally for the NHL Draft this past weekend was two members of the Wheat Kings, two Brandonites and four players on Brandon’s protected list.  Kale Clague (2nd Round, LA Kings) and Tanner Kaspick (4th Round, St. Louis Blues) were the two Wheat Kings selected, extending Brandon’s streak to 12 consecutive years – the second longest among WHL teams behind the Red Deer Rebels.  Kaspick and Jordy Stallard, who went in the 5th round to Winnipeg, were the two Brandonites chosen in the draft while Ryan Lindgren (2nd Round, Boston) Wade Allison (2nd Round, Philadelphia), Joey Anderson (3rd Round, New Jersey) and Rhett Gardner (4th round, Dallas) were the four players on the Wheat Kings protected roster that were chosen.

Wheat Kings’ Reid Duke, who was a Minnesota Wild draft pick in 2014 but re-entered the draft after not being signed, was not chosen in the 2016 Draft.  Duke will likely receive multiple invitations to attend Development Camps this summer from NHL teams, but not being chosen greatly increases the chances that he’ll return to Brandon as a 20-year old next season.  For me, Duke, F Tyler Coulter and G Jordan Papirny are now the likely front-runners to fill Brandon’s 20-year old spots for the 2016-2017 season.

With the NHL Draft in the rearview mirror, Wheat Kings’ fans can now look forward to the CHL Import Draft, which takes place on Tuesday (June 28).  Brandon has a chance to select two players in the draft, with Ivan Provorov still remaining on their protected list.  The Wheat Kings have the 59th (second-last) pick of the first round and the 59th pick (119th overall) in the second round.  Expect Brandon to select at least one defenceman but, considering the state of their defence core overall, it seems likely both picks would be used on blueliners.

Still with hockey, Brandon’s Kevin Saurette is the new Director of Operations for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.  Saurette played three seasons in the WHL, mainly with the Regina Pats, and five years at the University of Manitoba before spending nine years playing professionally.  His last three pro seasons were with Belfast in the EIHL.  While there, he obtained Masters of Business Administration from the University of Ulster – Belfast.  Saurette will assume his new duties on August 4.

Brandon product Nolan Thiessen has a new gig.  The three-time Brier champion and former world men’s championship has joined Curling Canada as a consultant, effective July 1.  Thiessen will be working with Curling Canada’s Event Model Review team, which is assessing all of Curling Canada’s championships and setting a future path for those events.  He’ll also provide an athletes’ perspective to many other Curling Canada initiatives.  Thiessen announced in April that he’s stepping away from competitive curling.

Congrats to Brandon product Dayton Black on being the lone player from outside of Winnipeg to be selected to Team Manitoba for next month’s Football Canada Cup.  Black just complete his Grade 10 season at Neelin, and is one of three quarterbacks on the squad.  During the 2015 season, Black completed 83 of 162 passes for 1,297 yards and seven interceptions and nine touchdowns.  He also rushed 93 times for 391 yards and five touchdowns.

Shameless plug warning!  Our Westman Softball Umpires’ Association will be hosting the Softball Manitoba U14 A Girls’ Championship on July 8-10 at Simplot Park.  The eight-team championship will include the hometown Westman Magic.  That same weekend, the Brandon Minor Baseball Association is hosting the Baseball Manitoba Mosquito A Championship.  It should be a great weekend, and is a great opportunity for everyone to see some young ball players in action.