Talon Brigley has a lot of memories associated with the Red Deer Rebels.
Wednesday, the Sylvan Lake native added one more, getting picked in the second round, 24th overall by the Rebels in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
“I was pretty excited about it, I’ve been watching them since I was a little kid and I’ve been hoping to play for them one day. Now that’s going to happen, so I’m pretty excited,” he said.
Brigley says he has been a Rebels fan as long as he can remember, going to games and following the team about as close as one can.
He said he especially looked up to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the electric Rebels centre who was picked first overall in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft and also first by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2011 NHL Draft.
“He was always my favourite player. I always looked up to him a lot and I’ve been told I play like him a little bit, maybe that’s from watching him. That’s who I looked up to when I was little,” Brigley said.
While the Nuge may have nudged Brigley into hockey fandom, he had another pretty big influence in his own house.
Brigley’s dad Travis, played three seasons in the WHL with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and was drafted 39th overall by the Calgary Flames in 1996. The elder Brigley went on to play 55 games in the NHL, 19 with the Calgary Flames and 36 more with the Colorado Avalanche in 2003-04. He also played 11 seasons in the AHL and one in the ECHL, as well as three in the German Elite League (DEL), before finishing his hockey career in Austria.
“As a family, we’re really excited and we’re looking forward to it,” added Travis about Talon getting picked on Wednesday.
Talon said although he never got to see his dad play, he has heard there are a few similarities in their game.
“I’ve never got to see him play, he retired when I was little. From what I heard, I play the same as him,” he said.
Rebels assistant GM Shaun Sutter explained that the team had done a lot of scouting work on Brigley, watching him even as an underage player with the Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels last season. They had him circled as a player they hoped to get this year.
“Talon plays the right way. He’s a good two-way player that has skill, can make plays and score. Plays both ends of the rink. He’s a kid with pretty high character,” said Sutter.
“If you go and watch Talon, you know he’s a good player. He played through some injuries this year, some kids would probably not be playing at all… he’s going to be a good player and he’s going to be a guy you can win with.”
In his second year with the Bantam AAA Rebels this season, Talon had a solid year, notching 13 goals and 13 assists in 26 games of Alberta Bantam Hockey League play.
With good offensive production, Brigley still views himself as a player who can contribute in all areas of the ice.
“I feel like I competed really hard this year and helped our team get all the way to the final. I just put in as much work as I could and did what I could to win,” he said.
While Brigley has already worn a Rebels logo for the past two seasons, playing for the big club at the Centrium for the team he admired growing up is a whole different ball game.
To imagine the day when he pulls on a Red Deer Rebels uniform is something Talon has thought about more times than he can count.
“It’s surreal to hear that, I’ve just been dreaming about that for a while now, ever since I was a little kid. I’m pretty excited about it,” he said.
Five other players from the 2019-20 Bantam AAA Rebels also got picked Wednesday in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft. Centre Harrison Lodewyk was picked 37th overall by the Prince Albert Raiders.
Centre Chase Walker and defenceman Ephram McNutt were both picked by the Prince George Cougars, Walker going 70th overall and McNutt at 92. Goalie Brock Lott was picked by the Winnipeg Ice in the eighth round, 155 overall and Josh Perreault went to the Spokane Chiefs with the 162nd selection. Defenceman Kaden Phillips of Sundre was picked by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the ninth round, 192 overall.