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Olds’ Dermot Johnston hopes to impress at Alberta Cup ahead of WHL Draft

The 14-year-old is already over six feet tall
Olds, Alta. native Dermot Johnston, middle, hopes to impress WHL scouts this week during the Alberta Cup at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre in Red Deer. On Thursday he played in the tournament’s opening game as a member of Team Alberta Blue in a 1-0 loss to Alberta Green. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Olds native Dermot Johnston has his eyes set on getting drafted into the Western Hockey League.

The 14-year-old defenceman is well on his way to achieving that goal after a successful season with the U15 AAA Red Deer Rebels in the Alberta Elite Hockey League.

During the 2022-23 campaign, Johnston contributed three goals and 13 assists for 16 points.

With the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft under two weeks away, Johnston has one last shot to leave a lasting impression in front of WHL scouts this week at the Alberta Cup in Red Deer.

The tournament, which began on Thursday and will finish on Sunday, features hundreds of U16 prospects from Alberta vying for a chance to be drafted on May 11.

According to rankings released by Elite Prospects, Johnston is ranked 38th among all players heading into the draft but you won’t hear that from the youngster.

“I’m just trying to show them my best self. Show them I can compete with everybody and that I’m willing to be there,” he said.

Johnston began playing hockey at four years old following in the footsteps of his father who played junior A hockey.

With his 15th birthday just around the corner, Johnston is already listed as 6’2” tall and 184 pounds. The left-handed rearguard said his skating and edge work is his main strength.

It helps him get around his opponents but his size is also impossible to ignore out on the ice.

“It’s a big help but also I feel like my hands and moves can make space for other players,” he added.

Head coach of the U15 AAA Red Deer Rebels Justin Jarmolicz said Johnston possesses the prototypical skillset and body type every team in the WHL is looking for.

“He’s big, he can skate, he’s got good puck skills, and he can shoot it hard. He’s going to bring a lot of minutes for whatever team drafts him,” he said.

“There’s teams talking about him in the first round so who knows where he’ll go depending on his Alberta Cup. That’ll dictate a lot but Dermot is a very safe pick for somebody and he’ll play in that league for a long time.”

On Thursday Johnston hit the ice as a member of Team Alberta Blue to kick off the tournament in a 1-0 loss to Alberta Green. Despite not registering a point he said it felt good to get back in game action.

“It felt good. At the start everybody has nerves but it was good to get going and meet new guys. It’s just really fun to get out there,” he said.

On Alberta Blue, he’s joined by Red Deerian George Monaghan and Rebels teammate Easton Daneault. He also played alongside fellow Olds resident Tucker Tullikopf and Sylvan Lake’s Blayze Wheeler.

Other Central Albertans taking part in the tournament are Dallin Antos, Ryder Cyrenne, Kohen Lodge, Daxon Rudolph, Ordell Saddleback, and Nash Nicolay.

The Alberta Cup will continue through to Sunday until a champion is crowned in the final at 2 p.m.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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