Two local hockey players were picked up in the WHL Bantam Draft Thursday.
Elkhorn’s Layne Toder was a fourth round draft pick for the Calgary Hitmen and Moosomin’s Jevon Schwean was a seventh round draft pick for the Spokane Chiefs.
Toder was drafted 85th overall, and Schwean was drafted 133rd overall.
Toder grew up playing minor hockey in Elkhorn and has played the last few seasons with the Yellowhead AAA Bantam Chiefs. The defenseman was voted assistant captain of the team this season.
He says this season with the Chiefs was one of his best, but he credits part of that to playing with a strong team. Toder ended the season with 21 points—six goals and 15 assists.
“Personally I thought I’d played one of my best seasons of hockey, and it definitely helped my team,” he says. “But it was just easier to play like that when I had kids on my team who were really good.”
When it came the to the Bantam WHL draft, Toder says he didn’t have high expectations.
“I didn’t really expect much. I hoped to go to a team. I didn’t know which team. I’d been talking to some WHL scouts before the draft and they didn’t really tell me much about where I could go or if they could get me.
“Before the draft I was just kind of hoping to go to a good team. I was very lucky to go to Calgary—it’s an amazing organization there. Travis and Taylor (Sanheim) have been there and they’ve said that it’s a very good place to go, a great organization.”
The Sanheim twins are both from Elkhorn, and play hockey with the Hitmen. Toder says they are one of the reasons he was hoping to be drafted by Calgary.
He says the Hitmen were didn’t tell him much about why he was drafted.
“They just said they thought I had a solid season, that the Sanheim family spoke highly of my family and myself,” he says.
Toder says he is proud to be drafted by the Hitmen.
“I was pretty proud to be selected by Calgary, just to see that the hard work has started paying off a little bit,” he says.
“Calgary and Regina were the top two teams I wanted to go to. Calgary just because the Sanheim boys were there and they said how great a place it is to go to, and Regina, because it’s closer to home.”
Because he’s only 15, Toder is trying out for the Yellowhead Midget AAA Chiefs for the 2015-16 season. He will attend the Hitmen’s summer camp in Calgary this year.
“The hard work is just starting now,” he says. “They still have off-ice testing I have to go to in the summer camp, so I’m training all summer.
“I try to just look at it day by day, but my ultimate goal is just playing at the highest level possible for me, whatever that brings.”
After playing minor hockey in Moosomin, Jevon Schwean has been playing hockey with the Bantam AAA Melville Millionairs for the past three seasons as a defenseman.
He says he had a strong season in 2014-15.
“It was a pretty good season. I was captain of the team. I led the team quite a bit. When those kids got down I just had to pick them up and we kept on playing hard. We lost in the quarterfinals against Yorkton.
“It was a fun season, it was definitely one to remember. I played pretty consistent, pretty good.”
Schwean says he knew there was a chance he could be drafted this season.
After playing in the SaskFirst Bantam zone tournament a few weeks ago, he garnered some interest from scouts.
“A couple teams called me after Sask First Zones, that’s a big thing for the draft. A lot of scouts are there and I played there. A couple teams called me after that and said they were interested.
“It was a 50/50 chance. If I didn’t get drafted I wasn’t going to be heartbroken, but it was so great to get drafted,” he says. “It put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. I’m still smiling.
“A couple of scouts and the GM called me after the draft yesterday and they said they loved the way I played and I’m a leader, and they don’t only pick good players but good people. And they need people to push back. You can’t just be scared, you have to push back and play physical.”
Schwean says he was thrilled to be drafted by the Spokane Chiefs.
“It was just so great to be drafted, it didn’t matter when or where I got drafted. I’d go anywhere because it’s just that big of an accomplishment.
“It feels great. You never know if it’s going to happen or not, but it’s a dream come true.
“This is an accomplishment that’s going to stick with me for the rest of my life.”
Schwean will attend camp for the Chiefs in the fall, and is trying out for two Midget AAA teams for the 2015-16 season—the Moose Jaw Generals and the Tisdale Trojans.
He says now that he’s been drafted, the hard work begins.
“I need to exercise almost every day, get on the ice almost every day, shoot pucks, work on my hockey skills, get stronger. This summer is going to be big for me.”