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HomeNewsCougars prioritize the blueline during 2023 WHL Prospects Draft

Cougars prioritize the blueline during 2023 WHL Prospects Draft

The Prince George Cougars went to Manitoba for their top selection at the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft.

With the 15th overall selection, the Cats selected defenceman Carson Carels from the Pilot Mound Hockey Academy U-15 Prep Team.

In 20 games this season, Carels tallied 32 points. Carels is from Cypress River, Manitoba.

Director of Scouting Bob Simmonds stated the organization has had its eyes on him for a while.

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“He is a player we identified early on in the season and in the last half of the year really came on. The one thing that really stood out for us was his leadership ability and his character.”

“His character is just off the charts not to mention his ability to play the game at a very high level and we think his long-term projection and his ceiling is very, very high. We are thrilled.”

The Cougars ended up picking five defencemen, five forwards, and a goalie in the draft.

Six of those players are from Alberta, three from Saskatchewan and one each from B.C. and Manitoba.

With their first of three selections in the second round, the Cats selected right-winger Kayden Lemire 37th overall from OHA Edmonton U-15 Prep Team. In 27 games this season, Lemire tallied 63 points.

The Cougars then had back-to-back selections to conclude round two. With the 43rd pick, PG took defenceman Dermot Johnston from the Red Deer Rebels U-15 AAA program. The Olds, Alberta products tallied 16 points in 26 games.

Immediately following, the Cougars secured Townes Kozicky from the Calgary Buffaloes U15 AAA team. This past season, Kozicky notched 60 points in 27 games including 23 goals.

PG’s only pick in the third round (63rd overall) was Patrick Sopiarz out of Edmonton. The five-foot eleven-inch centre recorded  46 points in 25 games with OHA Edmonton U-15 Prep Team – the same squad as Lemire.

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Ethan Hamilton of the Humboldt Broncos U15 AA program turned out to be the Cougars fifth-round selection (103rd overall). Hamilton posted 27 points in 21 games last season at left wing.

In round six, the Cougars selected defenceman Logan Jugnauth from the Okanagan Rockets (U-15 AAA).

The Cougars made another splash in the seventh round thanks to a trio of selections.

First, PG took centre Emile Plourde from the Sherwood Park AAA Flyers (140th overall) followed by Saskatoon-born netminder Luke Norman (147th) and blueliner Eli Johnson (154th).

Ryan Pedersen became the fifth defenceman taken by the Cougars in the eighth round (169th overall). Pedersen last season with the Notre Dame Hounds U15 Prep squad in Saskatchewan.

The Cougars passed on their remaining selections including back-to-back picks in the 10th round.

Furthermore, the Seattle Thunderbirds selected a trio of kids from Williams Lake. Centre Colton Gerior was taken in the fourth round (87th overall) while Jaxsen Dikur – a 6’5 netminder heard his name called in the sixth (129th overall).

Dikur is expected to suit up for the Cariboo Cougars next season. The T-Birds selected forward Asher Lucas in the 11th round.

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