It was three times the fun for the Red Deer Rebels Bantam AAA team Thursday at the WHL Bantam Draft.
Two forwards from the squad could be making the short trip down Hwy 2 for their WHL careers, while a third was the highest player selected from Central Alberta.
Noah Danielson and Brett Meerman, who played on the same line with the Rebels much of the Alberta Bantam AAA Hockey League season, were selected in the fourth and fifth round respectively by the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“I’m extremely proud of them. Like a happy older brother. They’ve worked hard and they earned it. I’m lucky enough to be around them and be part of it,” said Rebels Bantam AAA head coach Justin Jarmolicz.
The duo combined for 69 goals and 145 points this season for Red Deer. Danielson was both the top scorer and the MVP of the ABHL.
“There’s a lot of guys that play in Medicine Hat that are like that and have success (playing) an undersized game. Undersized guys that are skilled and gritty,” Red Deer Rebels assistant GM and director of player personnel Shaun Sutter said about the duo. “Hopefully these guys can go on to have some success as local kids.”
Both Meerman and Danielson are listed at five-foot-eight on the WHL website.
Their teammate and captain Ronan Seeley was picked by the Everett Silvertips 20th overall and Jarmolicz said the defender will find a way to be a difference maker in the WHL.
“This year compared to last year he was exceptional. His skating was incredible and his vision is great,” Jarmolicz added.
“I said to every scout that talked to me, there’s going to be 21 teams that wished they had him and Everett was the lucky one, he fell into their lap. Ronan is going to be a good player in that league for sure.”
The head coach said it was fun to watch the way his captain elevated his game this year.
“He was a calming influence. He never got too up, never got too down,” Jarmolicz said. “He just played hard and as the intensity and the competition went up, he got better and better and that’s what you want to see out of your leaders.”
Seeley went one pick before the Red Deer Rebels picked 22nd overall and the Rebels assistant GM had some high praise for the five-foot-nine, 147-pound defenceman from Olds.
“He’s a great player with a lot of potential. That’s definitely deserving for him and his family,” Sutter said.
Jarmolicz said he did not talk very much to the trio this season about what a potential selection in bantam draft might mean, but was thrilled Thursday with what they accomplished.
“This is just your foot in the door … (it) doesn’t mean you’re going to play,” he said.” (But) it’s a big step and they should be proud of themselves.”