RINK Hockey Academy in Kelowna was made one proud organization on Wednesday morning.
The Western Hockey League’s (WHL) U.S. Priority Draft started at 9 a.m. on May 10, where teams each get to draft two players from the United States, with all players available this year born in 2008. Despite being from America, the players are still eligible if they’re playing in Canada.
And with the first two overall selections, the Spokane Chiefs took Brody Gillespie and the Victoria Royals took Cruz Waltze, both from RINK Hockey Academy U15 prep team. Gillespie is from Vancouver, Washington while Waltze is from Richland, Washington.
This past season, Gillispie finished second in team scoring with 54 points (26 goals, 28 assists) in 28 games. Waltze was fifth in team scoring with 46 points in 28 games (24 goals, 22 assists).
Meanwhile the hometown team had the seventh overall pick in Wednesday’s draft. With the pick, they took forward Kalder Varga, from Chicago Mission U14 from Geneva, Illinois.
Varga collected 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in 15 games this season.
He is the son of former Tacoma Rocket, John Varga. He played for the Rockets for all four seasons in Tacoma before the team moved to Kelowna in 1995.
With their second pick in the draft (26th overall), the Rockets selected Oliver Kanat, a goaltender from the Los Angeles Jr. Kings U14 team.
In 28 games last season, the Newport Beach, California native collected a goals against average of 1.53 and a save percentage of .922.
The WHL Prospects Draft takes place on Thursday, May 11 at 9 a.m. It can be followed on the WHL’s website.