Luke Perrett ’24
On December 9, 2021, the Western Hockey League (WHL) will hold its annual bantam draft. This year, teams will select players born in 2006. With 22 teams and 15 rounds of drafting, the lives of over 300 young men will change for the near future. Among the group of draft prospects is St. Paul’s Jacob Armstrong.
Armstrong ’24 currently plays goaltender for the U17 Winnipeg Wild and has a top 25 save percentage for all 2006 goalies in Western Canada, 3rd in Manitoba. WHL teams typically prefer to play younger players as goaltenders. With the absurd number of goalies born in 2002, I can only assume many will be dropped prior to or during the draft this December. This could prompt teams to draft lots of goalies this draft. I sat down with Jacob to ask some questions:
TCN: “What would it be like to get drafted?”
Armstrong: “I mean, it would be surreal. Especially with our draft being postponed due to COVID-19, the suspense has built even more— I think about it so much as well. Overall, it would be sick to experience with my teammates, friends, and family because of how much they have all contributed into my early beginnings as a goaltender”.
TCN: “If you could go anywhere besides Winnipeg, where would it be and why?”
Armstrong: “Probably Everett, they’ve had a great goaltending program that cycled many great goalies like Carter Hart and Dustin Wolf through to the next level”.
TCN: “What emotions are going through your head right now?”
Armstrong: “Currently I’m a bit nervous due to our poor start but we’re all new guys, so we’re still trying to fit together. The first half of the season is going to be tough, but I think that after we gel as a team and understand our play style after Christmas, we’re going to be ready for our trip to Kelowna and the second half of the season.”
TCN: “If you get drafted, what direction are you hoping your career will go?”
Armstrong: “My plan is to play junior (MJHL) for 2 years, and then hopefully acquire a contract with a WHL team or a college scholarship, to pursue my career in hockey and study something involved with sports, like an athletic trainer, therapist, or chiropractor.”
In the past, St Paul’s has had students selected. Last year, the Kamloops Blazers selected Blake Jones ’23 in the 6th picking round. He has volunteered to answer some questions:
TCN: What was it like to get selected by the Blazers in last year’s draft, especially being one of their higher picks?
Jones: “It was amazing. The Kamloops Blazers organization is one of the best in the WHL, and to be drafted there is just an honour. Thinking one day I could put on a Blazers jersey, is just incredible.”
TCN: “How did you get the news, and how did your friends and family react to it?”
Jones: “On the day of the draft, I was in online school. I remember live streaming the draft on my TV. As I was ‘in class,’ my mom, brother, and I were seeing the results. All of us were excited. It was just a great experience going through that, especially with my family.”
TCN: “What goals and plans for your hockey career do you have going forwards?”
Jones: “Over my time playing hockey, I’ve always wanted to be at the highest level possible, and I want to keep playing at the highest level. I’m fortunate that I have options in front of me that I will try to pursue.”
TCN: “Lastly, any advice for Jacob and any other guys headed into the draft?”
Jones: “One piece of advice I would give is to not worry too much about it. Sure, being drafted would be awesome and extremely exciting. But if you don’t get drafted, you can’t get too down on yourself. There are many chances to show your skills and abilities, and the draft doesn’t define the rest of your hockey career.”
Photo Credit: WHL