Welcome to the inaugural AJHL Weekly here on BTI!
I’ll be your host, Liam Horrobin, the one who’ll be delivering all the latest news coming out of the AJHL each Sunday night.
It was a quiet week across Alberta, but even with that being said, we had more news than we’ve had in previous weeks which means we’re only getting closer to puck drop.
The majority of this week’s stories came from Southern Alberta and even one from a US Junior hockey league which involved a trio of AJHL players.
The biggest story came out just a few hours again which is where we will start out.
Twelfth Bandit commits to NCAA Div One School
In the most recent news coming out of the AJHL, Luke Bast became the 12th Brooks Bandits player to commit to a Division One NCAA program. The Bandits rookie will be taking his talents to the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
Bast had an excellent rookie campaign with the Bandits contributing with 31 points (eight goals, 23 assists) in 57 games. He also stepped up in a massive way for his team’s extended playoff run scoring 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in 15 games before they were knocked out by the Okotoks Oilers.
Brooks’ star rookie defenceman campaign was topped off when he was selected to the All-Rookie South team over teammate Brandon Scanlin and Grizzlies’ defenceman Tyler Pang.
It was made official via Tyler King that Bast will be joining the Fighting Hawks for the 2019-20 season, meaning he will stay in Brooks to compete in the RBC Cup next year.
Graduating Wolverine commits to NCAA program
On Thursday afternoon the Whitecourt Wolverines announced that ’97-born forward Stevie Bryant has committed to the University of Massachusetts-Boston Beacons for the 2018-19 season.
The Beacons are a Division III team who play in the New England Hockey Conference and finished with a 17-10-0 record last season. Recently, forward Colin Larkin, older brother of Detroit Red Wings star Dylan Larkin, graduated from the program and signed a professional contract with the Edmonton Oilers.
UMass will be getting an experienced player who played over 200 junior regular season games in both the AJHL (114) and NAHL (100). While he isn’t an elite scorer, Bryant contributes consistently and at crucial times for his team with four game-winning goals during his time in Whitecourt. He also proved to be a top playoff performer this past season scoring eight points in 14 games before the Spruce Grove Saints eliminated the Wolverines.
Bryant is the sixth player from the 2018 Wolverine roster to commit to a post-secondary program.
Grizzlies Continue to Build for Future
After announcing the signing of Lukas Jirousek last week, Rylan Burns will also be joining the Olds Grizzlies.
Burns, a ‘00 born forward, is coming in from the Red Deer Midget AAA Chiefs of AMHL. The numbers don’t jump off the page with him. In his 35 appearances for the Chiefs in 2018, Burns managed to collect 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in the regular season. During his team’s short playoff run, he contributed more consistently with two points (one goal, one assist in four games) in their semi-final loss to the Calgary Royals.
Again, his stats won’t blow you away. However, his 6’2 structure brings some much-needed size to what was a small forward group last season in Olds.
Now, with Burns and Jirousek joining the organization, it’s clear that new Head Coach Joe Murphy wants to make the Grizzlies bigger and tough to play against in what is a challenging South Division.
Dragons bring back a familiar face
Following the departure of former Assistant Coach, Brayden Klimosko, the Drumheller Dragons have brought in Kenton Levesque to fill the void left by Klimosko.
Levesque, 27, played his entire junior career with the Dragons from 2009 to 2012. In his final season in Drumheller, he was named captain by then-coach Dan Price. Levesque suited up 134 times scoring 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists) while also collecting 298 penalty minutes.
Since 2015, the former Dragons captain has been the Head Coach of the AC Avalanche Minor Midget AAA team. Levesque coached many players who have now developed into quality junior hockey players including Jacob-Bernard Docker (Okotoks Oilers), Cole Reinhardt (Brandon Wheat Kings), and Austin Wong (Okotoks Oilers) – all three of those players have been ranked in this upcoming draft rankings.
His ability to coach players onto the next level could help the likes of Jordan Taupert, Alex Rotundo, and the rest of the Dragons team who are looking move onto collegiate hockey.
Three taken in NAHL Draft
To wrap up this week’s review of the AJHL, three players were taken in the NAHL draft.
First of the board was Brayden Richards from the Whitecourt Wolverines. Richards was taken with the 54th overall pick which belonged to the Philadelphia.
Five rounds later, Chippewa opted to take ‘99-born forward Trevor Schroder from the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
And finally, Louis Jamerik was the third AJHL start to be selected when he fell to Odessa at 280. He’ll be the most interesting player to watch as he was just traded to the Calgary Mustangs.