Big day for Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels at WHL Bantam Draft

Nate Danielson highest ever drafted player from Red Deer

The Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels continue to churn out WHL prospects.

It was another big class of draftees for the program Thursday, with eight players hearing their names called at the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft in Red Deer. In the last four years, the team has had 19 players picked in the draft.

“First thing you feel is pride,” said Bantam AAA Rebels coach Justin Jarmolicz.

“You work so hard with these kids and give them all the tools then you watch then succeed like this and realize one of their goals and they know it’s just a step in the right direction. It really does mean a lot to them and I’m just so proud of all of them.”

It was an extra special day for Red Deer product Nate Danielson. He was selected fifth overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings.

He became the highest drafted Red Deer product ever and best since Jeff de Wit in 2013, who went 14th overall to the hometown Rebels.

Danielson, 14, was tuned into the live stream just before school started when he heard the Wheat Kings announced him as their pick.

“I was a little lost for words. I was pretty excited about it. I talked to them a little a bit,” said the five-foot-11, 147-pound forward.

“I was pretty excited, I’ve heard lots of good things about the organization. So that helped. Overall, really excited about it.”

The center had a stellar season, recording 26 goals 59 points in the Alberta Bantam Hockey League and winning the south division MVP. He elevated his game in the playoffs, with 22 points in 12 post-season games.

“He will do what it takes to win,” Jarmolicz said.

“He’ll block shots and he can lead by example. A lot of his attributes are almost unteachable… Almost pure thought and mind for the game. It’s there, it’s hard to teach but easy to nurture. He did a great job and had the right mindset all the way through.”

Jarmolicz added it was Danielson’s commitment to improvement that helped him reach new heights this year.

“He is the most improved player in the last two years in Bantam, in Western Canada,” said Jarmolicz.

“There’s no way he would have been looked at (at fifth overall) even at the beginning of the year. It just shows that hard work, with a good skill set and mind for the game can take you a long way.”

Other Rebels picked in the draft this year were defenceman Kaiden Ellertson (Brandon Wheat Kings, fifth round, 96th overall), Olds defenceman Avery Trotter (Spokane Chiefs, fifth round, 103), Tyler MacKenzie (Medicine Hat Tigers, sixth round, 122), Lacombe forward Nash Bamford (Kamloops Blazers, seventh round, 138), forward Ty Daneault (Saskatoon Blades, seventh round, 151), Porter Pennock (Prince Albert Raiders, seventh round, 154) and defenceman Connor Claughton (Prince George Cougars, ninth round, 195).

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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