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Bantam Draft Recap: Toporowski Headlines 2016 Class

CALGARY, Alberta – The Spokane Chiefs selected forward Luke Toporowski with the eighth overall pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft on Thursday morning in Calgary. Toporowski, the first American-born player taken in the 2016 draft, is the younger brother of current Chief Jake Toporowski and son of former Chief Kerry Toporowski.

A 5-foot-10, 163-pound left wing from Bettendorf, Iowa, Toporowski played the 2015-16 regular season with the Chicago Mission Bantam Major AAA of the High Performance Bantam Hockey League. He scored 22 goals and 11 assists in 20 games, earning Top Scorer honors. He was also the top scorer at the 2015-16 Pat Quinn Classic Bantam Elite Tournament.

“We were very excited to pick Luke with the eighth pick of the draft,” said Chris Moulton, Spokane Chiefs’ Director of Player Personnel. “He is a very skilled forward who we expect to be an impact player in the Western Hockey League.”

In his WHL Prospect Profile interview earlier this week, Toporowski said that he tried to emulate NHL great and future Hall of Fame forward Alex Ovechkin. “He’s a great skilled power forward,” Toporowski noted. “I try to model my game after his.”

“Luke is a player who generates scoring chances for his team with his speed,” continued Moulton. “He impressed our staff with how he wants the puck and puts himself in a good position to receive it.

“He has a good hockey sense to find open ice and uses that to set up his teammates. We’re very excited to have Luke join our group.”

VIDEO: Toporowski Chosen By Chiefs 8th Overall

2nd Round (30th Overall) – Eric Van Impe, D

Van Impe, a 6-foot, 150-pound puck-moving defenseman from Calgary, Alberta, racked up 15 goals and 28 assists in 36 games with the Calgary CNHA Northstar Sabres BAAA team.

Moulton: “Van Impe sees the ice very well and has exceptional poise with the puck. He’s good in one-on-one battles and is a smart player. He has the ability to both run the power play and be a shut-down defender.”

2nd Round (39th Overall) – Carter Chorney, F

Chorney scored in bunches for the Sherwood Park Flyers BAAA team in Sherwood Park, Alberta, posting 31 goals and 35 assists in just 36 games. Chorney, listed as a right wing with a 6-foot, 170-pound frame, added 6 goals and 8 assists in the 2016 playoffs.

Moulton: “Chorney is a big, strong skater who adds some offensive skill while showing leadership traits we’re looking for. He plays with intensity, finishes checks and wins puck battles.”

5th Round (96th Overall) – Adam Beckman, F

Beckman, a 5-foot-8, 139-pound forward from Saskatoon, Sask., scored at nearly a goal per game pace during the 2015-16 season, punching in 29 goals and adding 14 assists in 30 games with the Saskatoon Frostbite BAA. He then added 8 goals and 6 assists in 5 playoff contests.

Moulton: “Beckman caught our eye with the finish he had to his season, including a 5-goal game. He has a great scoring touch and instinct around the net.”

5th Round (107th Overall) – Ross Hawryluk, G

Standing at an imposing 6-foot-3 and 183 pounds, Hawryluk has the physical tools necessary to be a goalie in the Western Hockey League. A native of Lloydminster, Alberta, he posted a .906 SV% in 1,306 minutes over 22 games for the Lloydminster Heat last season and was named the team’s MVP.

Moulton: “Hawryluk is a big man with all the physical tools needed to be an outstanding goaltender in the Western Hockey League. He plays with confidence and challenges shooters.”

6th Round (127th Overall) – Cyrus Toth, D

Toth is a 5-foot-11, 160-pound defenseman from Edmonton, Alberta, who played last season with the Edmonton SSAC BAAA club. In 34 games, he recorded 7 points (2g, 5a) while piling up 73 PIM.

Moulton: “Toth is a solid, steady defenseman who is sound in all areas of the game. He has a good first pass and makes good decisions.”

8th Round (160th Overall) – Ethan Leyh, F

Out of Port Moody, B.C., the 5-foot-10, 155-pound forward spent the 2015-16 regular season with Yale Hockey Academy Bantam Prep, posting 12 goals and 21 assists in 25 games.

Moulton: “Leyh is a player that you don’t have to look for as he’s always around the puck. He brings a lot of energy and speed to the game and creates chances for his teammates using those two attributes.”

8th Round (162nd Overall) – Kurtis Labant, F

Labant racked up 88 PIM to go along with 34 points (19 goals and 15 assists) in 36 games with the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers BAAA club. With a late October 24 birthday, the young forward already comes in at 6-foot-2 and 181 points.

Moulton: “Labant is a very intimidating player with his size and physicality. He’s effective on the forecheck and finishes checks. He improved his skating throughout the year and has a heavy shot.”

9th Round (186th Overall) – Cordel Larson, F

Larson is a 5-foot-8, 158-pound forward out of Weyburn, Sask. He posted 30 points (11 goals and 19 assists) and 30 PIM in 38 games with the Notre Dame Hounds BAAA during the 2015-16 season.

Moulton: “Larson plays with speed and tenacity. He reads the play well and has a little bit of a greasy side to his game. He always knows where his teammates are.”

10th Round (206th Overall) – Jacob Hale, F

Hale is the second American player selected by the Chiefs in the 2016 draft. Out of Minneapolis, MN, in 14 games in the Minnesota High School system, he scored 14 goals and 5 assists.

Moulton: “Hale can play any type of game style and has a non-stop motor. He is relentless, finishes checks and can handle the puck in traffic. He is the type of player who makes those around him better.”

CHIEFS’ 2016 WHL BANTAM DRAFT SELECTIONS

  • 1st Round (8th Overall) – Luke Toporowski, F – Bettendorf, IA
  • 2nd (30th) – Eric Van Impe, D – Calgary, AB
  • 2nd (39th) – Carter Chorney, F – Sherwood Park, AB
  • 5th (96th) – Adam Beckman, F – Saskatoon, SK
  • 5th (106th) – Ross Hawryluk, G – Lloydminster, AB
  • 6th (127th) – Cyrus Toth, D – Edmonton, AB
  • 8th (160th) – Ethan Leyh, F – Port Moody, BC
  • 8th (162nd) – Kurtis Labant, F – St. Paul, AB
  • 9th (186th) – Cordel Larson, F – Weyburn, SK
  • 10th (206th) – Jacob Hale, F – Minneapolis, MN

Players eligible for the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft include 2001-born players who reside in the following provinces or states: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Players not selected in the Bantam Draft are then eligible to be listed by WHL clubs, with many being added to WHL Club Protected Player Lists as spots become available.

Ticket packages for the 2016-17 regular season are already on sale! With packages starting as low as $110, there’s a plan for any budget. Visit the Chiefs’ Ticket Office in person at the southeast corner of Spokane Arena or call 509-535-PUCK for more information.

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