The Kelowna Rockets were able to strengthen the depth chart after selecting 11 players in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft on Wednesday, April 22.
The bantam draft represents the future for so many young players embarking on what they hope to be the start of a long and prosperous career. But on April 22 it also represented the end of an era for Rockets’ assistant general manager and director of player personnel Lorne Frey.
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) April 22, 2020
After 30 years of scouting and recruiting, Frey decided to step away as Rockets’ assistant GM, a choice that allows him to spend more time with family. And while his final task as GM was sure to be sentimental, it was business as usual.
“We picked guys who are skilled that can skate and compete. It was a deep draft, hopefully, the players that we took take strides and improve over the next couple of years,” said Frey.
“That’s what you’re in this for, to see which players down the road improve and get better, in saying that they are good prospects at this time who are going to grow and develop.”
With the 8th overall pick in the draft, the Rockets used their first selection to take left-wing Andrew Cristall from St. George’s School (CSSBHL).
Cristall, 15, spent last season with St. George’s School Bantam Prep, recording 80 points (43G, 37A) and 47 penalty minutes in 27 games. He added another seven points (4G, 3A) and two penalty minutes in two playoff games.
"I'm a high IQ player with vision and hands who can make plays in the offensive zone from nothing." – Andrew Cristall pic.twitter.com/CQknyTNxx7
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) April 24, 2020
Frey said Cristall is a highly skilled player who makes those around him better.
“We think Andrew is a very good hockey player, he’s highly skilled with a tremendous hockey IQ,” said Frey. “He controls the game and sets the tempo of it, and he makes players better around him.”
Cristall, a native of Burnaby B.C. voiced his enthusiasm on Twitter after being selected by the Rockets.
“I’m so honoured and excited to be picked by such a prestigious organization,” said Cristall. “I’m looking forward to the future.”
Other Rockets selections in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft include:
PLAYER: Caden Price (Round 2, Pick 30)
HOMETOWN: Saskatoon, SK
2019-20 Statistics (Saskatoon Generals Bantam AA): 31 GP, 31 G, 32 A, 55 P
PLAYER: Marcus Pacheco (Round 3, Pick 49)
BIRTHDATE: April 6, 2005
HOMETOWN: Edmonton, AB
2019-20 Statistics (OHA Edmonton Bantam Prep: 30 GP, 15 G, 24 A, 39 PTS
Logan Dochuk, D, Round 6, Pick 115
Jackson Romeril, D, Round 6, Pick 118
Alex Scheiwiller, G, Round 7, Pick 140
Grady Lenton, C, Round 8, Pick 161
Ethan Neutens, F, Round 9, Pick 180
Ty Mason, C, Round 9, Pick 184
Will Munro, LW, Round 11, Pick 228
Wyatt Homeniuk, D, Round 12, Pick 250
Terry McFaul has taken over as the Rockets head scout. There is still no timetable for when the 2020-21 season will begin.