By Jensen, Randy on April 25, 2020.
For The Herald
Four Lethbridge hockey players were selected in the 2020 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft held on Wednesday.
John Szabo and Ty Fraser from the Lethbridge AAA Bantam Val Matteotti Golden Hawks, along with Carter Capton and Emmitt Finnie from Yale Hockey Academy located in Abbotsford, B.C., were among the 233 players picked this year.
Szabo was excited to be selected by the Edmonton Oil Kings.
“They’re an amazing organization and going there, somewhat close to home, is awesome,” said Szabo, after being selected in the sixth round by the Oil Kings.
The 14-year-old forward had 13 goals and 18 points in 20 games with the Golden Hawks this past season.
Szabo scored his 18 points despite missing 10 weeks after suffering a broken collarbone early in the season.
“It was pretty tough to get myself back into the game and get into the flow of the game and how fast everything was,” he said. “Sitting out for that long is pretty hard when everybody’s progressing and you’re just staying there, injured.”
Szabo and teammate Fraser could find themselves playing against each other someday in the WHL.
“Me and John have been good friends throughout our hockey careers, so I think it should be fun. I don’t think we’ve played against each other much, we’ve always seemed to be on the same team,” said Fraser, who was picked in the fifth round, 94th overall, by the Winnipeg Ice.
The right winger had 15 goals and 30 points in 28 games for the Golden Hawks and is optimistic about making the jump in a year or two.
“I think it’s going to be a big change, going such a long way away. But I think it’s going to be a good opportunity and it’s going to help develop me as a player a lot,” said Fraser.
Yale Hockey Academy goaltender Capton was also selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the fifth round, three picks after Fraser, after finishing the season with 2.25 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage in 16 games.
“I just want to work hard and continue to grow my knowledge of the game,” said Capton, who added he was keeping busy during the COVID-19 pandemic by going for runs and working out in his family’s home gym.
Capton’s teammate, Finnie, was drafted in the fourth round, 82nd overall, by the Kamloops Blazers.
“I had a feeling that I was going to go to Kamloops,” said Finnie, who grew up and played minor hockey in Lethbridge and now plays out of Abbotsford. “It’s really close, so it’s really good.”
Finnie finished the season with 26 goals in 30 games. Both his parents played basketball for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, but he decided to pursue hockey.
“Growing up I just wanted to do something different than my parents and chose hockey. I was good at it at a young age and I just stuck with it,” he said.