Bantam Draft Recap: Thornton Headlines Chiefs’ 2019 Class

Red Deer, Alta. — The Spokane Chiefs added to their prospect pool on Thursday in Red Deer, Alberta, picking 11 players in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. This year’s class – consisting of 2004-born players – is headlined by forward Ben Thornton out of Yale Hockey Academy Bantam Prep, who was selected with the 15th overall pick.

“Ben does a lot of good things,” said Chiefs’ Assistant General Manager Chris Moulton. “He’s a 200-foot player that contributes offensively. He’s got good size and huge character.”

Standing 6-foot-2 and 152 pounds, Thornton adds size and scoring ability up front. The Abbotsford, B.C. native averaged 1.5 points per game last season, totaling 13 goals and 32 assists in 30 games with a Yale squad that went on to win the CSSHL bantam championship.

“For us it’s about being a complete player,” added Moulton. “Ben is a guy we coveted and we’re super happy.”

The Chiefs are no strangers to Yale Hockey Academy players, having used their first-round selection in last year’s draft on Yale product Graham Sward. Sward was named a BCMML First-Team All-Star with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds during the 2018-19 campaign.

The Chiefs continued their draft class with a run of three-straight defensemen in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, picking Logan Cunningham of Yellowknife, N.W.T., Garrett Brown of San Jose, Calif. and Avery Trotter of Olds, Alta.

They dipped into the Manitoba forward ranks in the sixth and seventh rounds, taking Michael Cicek out of Winnipeg and Carson Buydens from Gladstone.

Spokane added defenseman Dayton Craik (Brentwood Bay, B.C.) and forward Matthew Langston (Sherwood Park, Alta.) with back-to-back picks in the eighth round before grabbing their only goaltender of the 2019 class in Southlake, Texas native Paxton Geisel. They closed out the draft with a pair of forwards in the 11th and 12th rounds: Cam Smith of Victoria, B.C.) and Ridge Dawson of Kelowna, B.C.

In all, the Chiefs selected six forwards, four defensemen and one goalie. By home province/state, British Columbia (4) led the way, followed by Alberta (2), Manitoba (2), Northwest Territories (1), California (1) and Texas (1).

Players selected in this year’s bantam draft will be eligible to play for the Chiefs full-time in the 2020-21 season.

Spokane Chiefs’ 2019 WHL Bantam Draft Class

1st Round (15th Overall) – Ben Thornton

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Abbotsford, BC
  • Measurables: 6’2″, 152 lbs, shoots left
  • 2018-19: Yale Hockey Academy Bantam Prep (CSSHL)
  • Stats: 13 goals, 32 assists, 45 points, 28 PIM in 30 GP
  • Scouting Report: (see above)

3rd Round (59th Overall) – Logan Cunningham

  • Position: Defense
  • Hometown: Yellowknife, NT
  • Measurables: 6’0″, 158 lbs, shoots left
  • 2018-19: Yukon Rivermen
  • Scouting Report: “Logan is a very steady defenseman who we feel has a lot of upside.”

4th Round (85th Overall) – Garrett Brown

  • Position: Defense
  • Hometown: San Jose, CA
  • Measurables: 5’7″, 133 lbs, shoots right
  • 2018-19: San Jose Junior Sharks (T1EBHL)
  • Stats: 14 goals, 20 assists, 34 points, 70 PIM in 42 GP
  • Scouting Report: “Always makes good, quick decisions and keeps the puck moving. A mature player who defends well. Garrett is a leader.”

5th Round (103rd Overall) – Avery Trotter

  • Position: Defense
  • Hometown: Olds, AB
  • Measurables: 6’1″, 163 lbs, shoots left
  • 2018-19: Red Deer Rebels (AMBHL)
  • Stats: 5 goals, 11 assists, 16 points, 14 PIM in 32 GP
  • Scouting Report: “A solid, steady defender who is a good skater and has very good size. Avery has a strong, heavy shot. His skating ability is effective both defensively and on the rush.”

6th Round (125th Overall) – Michael Cicek

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Winnipeg, MB
  • Measurables: 5’9″, 160 lbs, shoots right
  • 2018-19: Winnipeg Monarchs (WBD1)
  • Stats: 25 goals, 19 assists, 44 points, 32 PIM in 31 GP
  • Scouting Report: “A creative forward with a high level of skill. Michael pays attention details and is effective in all situations. He competes.”

7th Round (147th Overall) – Carson Buydens

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Gladstone, MB
  • Measurables: 5’7″, 144 lbs, shoots right
  • 2018-19: Central Plains Capitals (WBD1)
  • Stats: 25 goals, 21 assists, 46 points, 32 PIM in 34 GP
  • Scouting Report: “A good 200-foot player who competes, wins battles and makes his teammates better. He is a well-rounded player with a nice set of skills.”

8th Round (171st Overall) – Dayton Craik

  • Position: Defense
  • Hometown: Brentwood Bay, BC
  • Measurables: 6’0″, 165 lbs, shoots left
  • 2018-19: Shawnigan Lake School (CSSHL)
  • Stats: 3 goals, 11 assists, 14 points, 14 PIM in 33 GP
  • Scouting Report: “An on-ice leader who plays hard. Has an offensive skill set and will join the rush. Has a good shot from the blue line and will make a good first pass.”

8th Round (172nd Overall) – Matthew Langdon

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Sherwood Park, AB
  • Measurables: 5’10″, 145 lbs, shoots right
  • 2018-19: Sherwood Park Flyers (AMBHL)
  • Stats: 16 goals, 8 assists, 24 points, 28 PIM in 28 GP
  • Scouting Report: “Matthew has good speed and a good skating stride. He brings energy and will contribute offensively by going to the tough areas of the ice.”

9th Round (191st Overall) – Paxton Geisel 

  • Position: Goalie
  • Hometown: Southlake, TX
  • Measurables: 6’0″, 175 lbs
  • 2018-19: Dallas Junior Stars (T1EBHL)
  • Stats: 3.20 GAA, 0.884 SV%
  • Scouting Report: “Paxton is a big-bodied goalie who tracks the puck well. He competes to make saves and has lots of upside.”

11th Round (235th Overall) – Cam Smith

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Victoria, BC
  • Measurables: 6’1″, 180 lbs, shoots left
  • 2018-19: Victoria RC Kings Bantam T1
  • Scouting Report: “Cam is a big, strong winger who likes to shoot the puck and play an aggressive, physical game.”

12th Round (257th Overall) – Ridge Dawson

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Kelowna, BC
  • Measurables: 5’6″, 120 lbs, shoots left
  • 2018-19: Okanagan Hockey Academy (CSSHL)
  • Stats: 14 goals, 15 assists, 29 points, 20 PIM in 29 GP
  • Scouting Report: “Ridge is a smart player who works hard every shift. He goes to the tough areas of the ice.”

Spokane Chiefs’ 2019 WHL Bantam Draft Results

  • 1st Round (15th Overall) – Ben Thornton, F
  • 3rd (59) – Logan Cunningham, D
  • 4th (85) [from Saskatoon] – Garrett Brown, D
  • 5th (103) – Avery Trotter, D
  • 6th (125) – Michael Cicek, F
  • 7th (147) – Carson Buydens, F
  • 8th (171) [from Lethbridge] – Dayton Craik, D
  • 8th (172) [from Edmonton] – Matthew Langdon, F
  • 9th (191) – Paxton Geisel, G
  • 11th (235) – Cam Smith, F
  • 12th (257) – Ridge Dawson, F

Players eligible for the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft included 2004-born players who reside in the following provinces or states: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, 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 2019-20 season are on sale now and start as low as $80! Learn more at or at the Chiefs’ Ticket Office at Spokane Arena during regular business office hours, in-person or over the phone at 509-535-PUCK.

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