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Pistons stress defence at MJHL draft

By: Terry Frey

Posted: 06/5/2018 8:12 AM

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The Steinbach Pistons selected three defenceman out of their five picks at the Manitoba Junior Hockey League bantam draft Sunday in Winnipeg. They rounded out their selections with two forwards.

Each of the 11 teams selected five players in the annual draft, 66 in all.

The Winkler Flyers, who acquired the first overall pick in a pre-draft trade with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines, selected forward Grady Lane from Virden as the top pick in this year’s draft. Lane garnered 22 goals and 42 points in 35 games with the bantam Southwest Cougars this past season.

Selected second overall by the Dauphin Kings was forward Sloan Stanick from Rapid City who had 28 goals and 59 points in 36 games with the bantam Yellowhead Chiefs last season.

The top Eastman player and third overall selection in the draft was defenceman Kyle Melo from Lorette who went to the Neepawa Natives. Melo was outstanding on the blue line for the Eastman Bantam ‘AAA’ Selects last season as he scored 23 goals in 34 games for the Selects, seven of them on the powerplay, and had 40 points on the season.

By virtue of their first place finish in the MJHL last season, the Pistons had the 11th and final pick in the draft. With their first pick they selected diminutive defenceman Ethan Johnson from Winnipeg, who is 5’11", but at only 145 lbs, presumably he will fill in to that frame down the road. Johnson had 16 points in 32 games in with the bantam Winnipeg Sharks last season.

The Pistons then took forward Neo Kiemeney from Winnipeg in the second round. At only 115 lbs., Kiemeney played high school hockey with the St. Paul’s Crusaders last season.

With their third round pick, the Pistons took hulking defenceman Zack Davis from Winnipeg. At 6’3" and 250 lbs, Davis would be an imposing figure on any blue line, and probably not done growing yet. Also with the bantam Winnipeg Sharks last season, he also produced offensively with 11 goals and 35 points in 32 games this season.

Then with their fourth pick, the Selects took a player with a well-known hockey name in Souris, forward Avery Kirkup, who had 27 goals and 57 points in 35 games with the bantam Southwest Cougars last season.

The Pistons did not have a pick in the fifth round, as that selection was dealt to the Dauphin Kings in early December in the deal that brought Riese Gaber to the Pistons.

Due to an earlier trade with Waywayseecappo, the Pistons had two picks in the sixth round as they took two Winnipeg players, defenceman Nolan Bettens, who was with the Winnipeg Warriors last season; and forward Taggart Plouffe, who was with the Rink Hockey Academy Bantam Prep team last season.

Among the other Eastman area players selected in the draft, forward Matthew Egan from St. Adolphe, who was with the bantam Eastman Selects, was selected in the second round, 15th overall by the Swan Valley Stampeders.

Forward Ashton Romaniuk from La Broquerie went in the third round to the Dauphin Kings. Romaniuk had 22 goals for the Bantam Selects last season.

Goaltender Jayden-Riley Catellier from St. Pierre was a fifth round pick by the Portage Terriers; forward Mike Svenson from Ile des Chenes was a fifth round selection by the OCN Blizzard; and forward Brandon Thiessen from Blumenort also went in the fifth round to the Dauphin Kings.

Prior to the draft the Pistons also auto-protected defenceman Ethan Unger and forward Dawson Smith.

All of these recent Pistons draft pick will be in attendance at the Pistons Rookie Camp in early September. 

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