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T-Birds Select Mathew Barzal First Overall In 2012 WHL Bantam Draft

T-Birds make 10 selections in 2012 Bantam Draft

CALGARY, May 3, 2012 — The Seattle Thunderbirds selected 10 players in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft in Calgary, Alberta, on Thursday.

The T-Birds selected center Mathew Barzal, from Coquitlam, British Columbia, with the first overall pick in the draft. Barzal is 5’10 and 160-pounds and played with the Burnaby Winter Club Bantam A team last season. In 35 regular season games Barzal had 39 goals and 68 assists for 107 points. In 17 playoff games this past season he had 46 points on 16 goals and 30 assists.

“It’s real exciting going number one,” said Barzal. “I am very proud to be selected by the T-Birds. I am glad today happened how it happened. I would like to thank all the coaches at the Burnaby Winter Club for helping me go first overall.”

“We are very excited to add Mathew Barzal to our team today,” said Thunderbirds General Manager Russ Farwell from the draft in Calgary. “Mathew has true star potential and will be a very exciting player for our fans to watch develop. He has a style all his own and plays the game at a pace that is truly fun to watch. He has been a dominant player for a number of years and his package of skill and winning attitude will have a tremendous influence on our team from top to bottom.”

The T-Birds selected right wing Keegan Kolesar with their second first round pick. Kolesar is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and played with the Winnipeg Hawks Bantam AAA team last season. He appeared in 27 games and had 22 goals and 11 assists for 33 points with 84 penalty minutes. Kolesar is 6’0 and 208-pounds.

The T-Birds had two first round picks from the trade of Marcel Noebels to the Portland Winterhawks at the trade deadline.

“Keegan was a player that constantly got better every time we saw him,” said T-Birds Director of Player Personnel Colin Alexander. “He will create space and time for other players. He’s smart. He makes intelligent plays. We really liked him as a player. We think he is a really good prospect.”

In the second round, with the 25th overall pick, the T-Birds selected defenseman Ethan Bear from Ochapowace, Saskatchewan. Bear, a right-handed defenseman is 5’11 and 189-pounds. He played 40 games for the POE Bantam Tier 1 team and had 12 goals and 32 assists for 44 points with 45 penalty minutes.

“He is smooth skating, puck moving defenseman who also plays a strong physical game. He has good vision and poise with the puck,” said Farwell.

With their third round pick, 47th overall, the T-Birds selected goalie Logan Flodell from Regina, Saskatchewan. Flodell is 5’10 and 160-pounds and played for the Regina Senators Bantam AA team last year.

“He is a good, athletic, technical goaltender that will play Midget AAA this year and have a good opportunity to continue to develop,” said Alexander.

The T-Birds did not have a fourth round selection in the draft. In the fifth round they selected center Lane Pederson from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Pederson played with the Saskatoon Generals Bantam AA team last season and had 51 points on 27 goals and 24 assists in 33 games. He also had 70 penalty minutes. He is 5’9 and 155-pounds.

“Lane is a good skater who scored 51 points in only 33 games this year,” said Alexander. “We believe he is going to be playing in a  good midget program this year, which will give him a good chance to develop.”

Seattle did not have a sixth or seventh round selection, but did have two eighth round selections.

With their first selection in the eighth round the T-Birds selected left wing Donovan Neuls from Grenfell, Saskatchewan. Neuls played 24 games for the Melville Millionaires Bantam AA team this prior season and had 24 goals and 33 assists for 57 points with 42 penalty minutes. He is 5’8 and 148-pounds.

“Donovan scored over two points a game and is a very good playmaker,” said Farwell. “As the captain of his team he showed good leadership qualities as well.”

The T-Birds selected defenseman Luke Osterman from Stillwater, Minnesota, with their second eighth round pick. Osterman is 6’2 and 170-pounds and played for the Stillwater Bantam team.

“Luke is a Minnesota defenseman with excellent potential,” said Farwell. “He is a good skater with high energy and the skill to provide offense from the back end.”

In the ninth round the T-Birds drafted left wing Tyler Kreklewich from Melville, Saskatchewan. Kreklewich appeared in 22 games with the Melville Millionaires Bantam AA team and had 20 goals and 15 assists for 35 points and 63 penalty minutes.  He is 5’11 and 140-pounds and was a teammate of Neuls, who the T-Birds took in the eighth round.

“Tyler is a top end skater with very good hands,” said Farwell. “He has the potential to be a good offensive producer.”

The T-Birds selected defenseman Zak Galambos from Walnut Creek, California, with one of two 10th round picks. Galambos is 6’0 and 170-pounds and played for the Detroit Compuware Major Bantam team last year. He appeared in 21 games and had two goals and 11 assists for 13 points with eight penalty minutes.

“Zak is a top end talent with the skills to be a top player in our league,” said Farwell. “Because he played outside of our territory, he is similar to recently signed defenseman Kevin Wolf, in that we added a top end player with a late pick which can be a great addition.”

The T-Birds second 10th round selection was defenseman Austin Wong from Medicine Hat, Alberta. Wong is 6’2 and 161-pounds and played 27 games with the Medicine Hat Bantam AAA team last year. He had nine assists and 22 penalty minutes.

“Austin is  a very smart defensive defenseman with the size and skating to develop into a good player in our league,” said Farwell.

The T-Birds drafted four defenseman, two left wings, two centers, one right wing and one goalie.

The Bantam Draft allows for the orderly transfer of players to WHL Protected Player Lists (PPL) from the bantam ranks (14-15 year old players). The 2012 Bantam Draft was of 1997 born players.

In order to get away from scouting peewees, the WHL instituted a bantam draft at the end of each season. WHL teams send scouts to watch first-year bantams from the start of the minor hockey season. The WHL holds a draft specifically to allow teams to add bantam players to their protected lists. While this draft is the first opportunity for teams to select bantam players, it is not the last chance for a player to be listed. After the draft is completed, all the remaining bantams become eligible to be listed by teams. Undrafted bantam players may also be added as spots become available on team’s PPL’s or as a player’s talents improve.

The WHL drafts bantam players from Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

T-Birds season tickets are currently on sale. Season tickets can be purchased by calling the T-Birds office at 253-239-7825.

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