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Posted: March 23, 2016

ICE win WHL Bantam Draft Lottery

A season without much to shout about ends with a salve for the Kootenay ICE.

KootenayIceThe Western Hockey League’s basement dweller for the 2015/16 season, and missing the playoffs for the first time in 17 years in Cranbrook, the ICE today won the WHL’s Bantam Draft Lottery, held at the WHL Office in Calgary to determine the order of the first six selections in the first round of the 2016 draft.

The WHL Bantam Draft Lottery involved the six non-playoff teams (Kootenay, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Tri-City, and Medicine Hat) from the 2015-16 season. The winning team could only move up a maximum of two positions in the first round of the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.

A Kootenay ICE ball was drawn first, meaning the order of the first round of the draft remains unchanged and the ICE will pick first overall, for the first time since 1997 when forward and future club captain and Memorial Cup winning team leader Jarrett Stoll was taken by the then Edmonton ICE. The year before the team drafted blueliner Steve McCarthy first overall as well.

The ICE will also pick first in the second round (23rd overall).

The Vancouver Giants will have the second selection, the Saskatoon Blades will select third, the Swift Current Broncos have the fourth selection, the Medicine Hat Tigers will select fifth, and the Tri-City Americans will also have the sixth overall selection.

This draft should inject the ICE with some needed talent to mesh with the players returning.

However, as the WHL’s ‘Prospect Central’ points out, many great players have been passed over in bantam drafts, including Shea Weber (Kelowna Rockets, Nashville Predators), who got his start skating with Salmon Arm in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, and NHL luminaries such as Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan, Dan Hamhuis, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Ennis.

The 2016 WHL Bantam Draft will be held in Calgary on Thursday, May 5. The order of the second round and all other rounds will be the inverse order of final 2015-16 WHL regular season standings.

Players eligible for the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft will be 2001-born players who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Past first overall WHL Bantam Draft picks include: Jay BouwmeesterMedicine Hat Tigers, 1998; Ryan Hollweg, Medicine Hat Tigers, 1999; Braydon CoburnPortland Winter Hawks, 2000; Kyle ChipchuraPrince Albert Raiders, 2001; Gilbert BruleVancouver Giants, 2002; Jonathan ToewsTri-City Americans, 2003; Ryan KerrPrince George Cougars, 2004; Colten TeubertRegina Pats, 2005; Jared CowenSpokane Chiefs, 2006; Quinton HowdenMoose Jaw Warriors, 2007; Ryan Nugent-HopkinsRed Deer Rebels, 2008; Derrick Pouliot, Portland Winterhawks, 2009; Alex Forsberg, Prince George Cougars, 2010;  Jake Virtanen, Calgary Hitmen, 2011; Matthew BarzalSeattle Thunderbirds, 2012; Tyler BensonVancouver Giants, 2013; Stelio MatheosBrandon Wheat Kings, 2014; and Ty SmithSpokane Chiefs, 2015.

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