West Kelowna and Kelowna products were a sought-after commodity at the WHL draft on Thursday as four local players were chosen in the first four rounds.
West Kelowna’s Brad Morrison was taken seventh overall in the opening round by the Everett Silvertips.
A 5-foot-9, 130-pound centre, Morrison played this past season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy bantams based in Penticton. He registered 93 goals and 159 points in 63 games during the 2011-12 campaign.
“It’s no surprise to me that Brad was a high pick,” said OHA bantam tier 1 coach Mike Needham. “He’s tremendously talented, he hunts for the net and loves to score. He’s one of those dynamic, gifted kids that teams are looking for.”
Another West Kelowna product, defenceman Chaz Reddekopp, went 13th overall to the Saskatoon Blades. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound Reddekopp played last season with Kelowna’s Pursuit of Excellence program.
“He’s a big, strong kid, and physically and emotionally mature,” POE bantam coach Kevin MacKay said of Reddekopp. “He shoots the puck hard and skates really well. He’s the most WHL-ready player we had.”
In the second round, Kelowna product Tanner Browne was chosen 35th overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings. A 5-foot-11, 195-pound defenceman, Browne played with the POE bantam program in 2011-12.
Kelowna’s Austin Wellsby, a right winger who played with POE, was chosen in the fourth round, 76th overall by the Kootenay Ice.
Westside bantam tier 2 defenceman Jesse Mills, who stands in a 6-foot-4, was chosen 88th overall by the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Other POE players chosen in the first four rounds of the draft were: defenceman Ethan Bear (Whitewood, Sask.) 25th overall by Seattle; defenceman Joe Gatenby (Calgary), 34th overall by the Kelowna Rockets; and centre Jordan Kawaguchi (Abbotsford), 80th overall by the Spokane Chiefs.
POE had nine players chosen in the first five rounds.
In the eighth round, Kelowna bantam tier 1 forward Ben Hanley was chosen 159th overall by the Spokane Chiefs.