Six hockey players who came through the Bow Valley Timberwolves program and another who cut his teeth in the sport here were selected in yesterday's WHL Prospects Draft and its US Priority Draft the day previous. 

Cochrane's Riley Boychuk, who was captain of the Airdrie Xtreme, topped the list after being picked second overall in the WHL prospect draft by the Prince Albert Raiders and is one of three players chosen by the Saskatchewan club.

Boychuk, 15, who was forewarned he'd be going high in the draft, took the day off from school.

"We watched it as a family on TV and had a chance to celebrate the moment. It was very cool, and we're so grateful to be drafted by such a good organization. It's an honour."

He is anxious to make the roster, contribute to the team, and meet the fans. But before any of that happens, Boychuk knows he has to prove himself. Should he be called up next season, he can only play a maximum of five games, and will be playing the majority of his season elsewhere. Boychuk says they haven't made a final decision on where he'll be playing next season.

"There's a lot of work to do on my part and it doesn't come easy, but I'm willing to put in that work and it's going to be fun."

Xtreme teammate and Timberwolves alumni Bennett Kelly was also selected by the Raiders in the second round, 27th overall.

"Oh, he's awesome," says Boychuk. "I was so excited when I saw the pick. I think I was more excited than him, well probably not, but that's what I think because I was very excited. He's a great player and he's an even better person, which goes a long way."

The Raiders selected Ty Krooshoop of the U15 AA Timberwolves in the 10th round (203rd overall).

Former Xtreme head coach Tyson Soloski only coached him a few games over the last two seasons, but he likes what he sees.

"He's such a great kid and a really good hockey player," says Soloski. "It was good to see his hard work be rewarded."

Other Timberwolves alumni drafted, all with the Xtreme, were: Rhett Sather of Rocky View County, 4th round, 68th overall, Spokane Chiefs;  Will McLaughlin of Canmore, 5th round, 105th overall, Portland Winterhawks; and Griffin Horn of Lac Des Arcs, 8th round, 158th overall, Calgary Hitmen.

Former Timberwolves player North McKee, whose family moved to Dallas, TX, was picked 14th overall in the US Priority Draft by the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Cochrane Minor Hockey issued congratulations shortly after the draft wrapped up and their officials are still beaming with pride over the success of their players in the draft.

Nine of 13 eligible players from Airdrie Xtreme were drafted.Nine of 13 eligible players from Airdrie Xtreme were drafted. (photo submitted)

The 2022-23 Airdrie Xtreme have notched a spot in Alberta minor hockey U15 AAA history by losing only one game this season, including their playoff and provincials run.

That is reflected heavily in the draft. Of 13 players eligible for the draft, nine were selected.

"I think we had a very strong team this year. I think it was probably one of the best U15 teams of all time," Coach Soloski agrees, "and it was really exciting to see our team's success. Individual success follows when you have such a good year."

"I talked to all of them yesterday, the ones that were selected and the few who weren't, to make sure they all know that they still have a future, and they just have to keep putting in the work. Getting drafted is great, but you still got to work hard, and prove that you can go play in the Western League in a couple of years."

Other Xtreme players selected hailed from Didsbury and Airdrie.

It was Soloski's first provincial championship with the Xtreme and appears to be his last. He has since joined the Calgary Hockey Academy. Soloski says he will be working with some Cochrane players at the academy.

Soloski is a former Cochrane resident who played four seasons with the Cochrane Generals before transitioning into coaching with Cochrane Minor Hockey. He was selected as head coach of the Xtreme in the 2019-20 season.