Jeffrey Faith, a 6’2″ defenseman from Wilcox, Saskatchewan, was the first of 10 players selected by the Spokane Chiefs at today’s Annual WHL Bantam Draft held in Calgary, Alberta. Overall, Spokane selected four defensemen, three with their first three picks, five forwards and one goaltender. Faith was chosen 16th overall.
“Jeffrey is a big defenseman with shutdown type of characteristics. He’s athletic, a real hard worker and we’re excited to have him be a part of our organization,” Chiefs Director of Player Personnel Chris Moulton said.
Faith appeared in 33 games this past season with the Notre Dame Hounds Bantam team and recorded 82 penalty minutes and added 11 assists. He is the fourth defenseman in the last five years selected by Spokane in the first round.
“Overall, things went really well for us,” Moulton said. “I think we addressed some issues that we wanted to improve in the future. We got bigger and selected a real nice combination of grit and skill up front.”
Spokane used one of two fifth round picks on Spokane native Kailer Yamamoto, a center who was a product of the Spokane American Youth Hockey Association.
“Kailer is one of the most skilled forwards we saw all year. He is dynamic, smart and makes something happen with the puck every shift. We look forward to seeing him grow into a player with us.”
Dalton Hamaliuk from Leduc, Alberta was Spokane’s second round pick, 38th overall. Hamaliuk was the Leduc Oil Kings (Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League) top scoring defenseman with eight goals and 33 points in 27 games.
Jake Toporowski, a 6’0″ defenseman, was Spokane’s third round selection, 60th overall. Toporowski played this past season for the Chicago Mission Major Bantam team and had 13 points, including 11 assists, in 23 games.
This year’s draft marks the first time Spokane has taken three defensemen with their first three picks.
“That was a first for me,” Moulton said. “We picked Jeffrey in the first round and then when Dalton was available in the second we couldn’t pass him up. In the third, we wanted Jake to be a part of our organization and knew that if we didn’t pick him then someone else would. We are really happy with the forwards we took after that.”
Toporowski is the son of Kerry Toporowski, a former Chief who played two seasons in Spokane (1989-91) and helped win the organization’s first Memorial Cup in 1991. A Bettendorf, Iowa native, Toporowski had petitioned the WHL earlier in the spring and received approval to be eligible for the bantam draft based on family history and current relationships within the league.
Taylor Ross, Faith’s teammate with the Notre Dame Hounds, started a string of three straight forwards taken by Spokane when he was selected in the fourth round, 82nd overall. Ross had 23 goals and 45 points in 33 games this past season, ninth in the South Saskatchewan Minor Hockey League.
With their first of two fifth round picks Spokane selected Nicholas Labossiere, a 5’6″ left wing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, 101st overall. Labossiere scored 32 goals and 60 points in 30 games this season.
Yamamoto was Spokane’s next pick, 105th overall. This past season he played for the L.A. Jr. Kings, a traveling bantam team based out of Los Angeles.
Michael Doneff from Medicine Hat, Alberta was taken with Spokane’s sixth pick, 126th overall. Doneff recorded 37 goals and 67 points in 33 games this season with Medicine Hat of the AMBHL.
The Chiefs picked 6’3″ goaltender Matthew Berlin with their seven round selection, 148th overall. Berlin posted a 2.53 goals against average and two shutouts in 12 games this past year with the South Side Athletic Club in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta.
Regina, Saskatchewan’s Chaseton Sare was picked in the eighth round, 170th overall. The center scored 18 goals and 43 points in 33 games as a member of the Regina Pat Blues of the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League.
Walker Cote, a defenseman from Penticton, B.C., was selected in the ninth round, 192nd overall. The 5’11” blueliner appeared in 56 games this past season with the Okanagan Bantam team and scored four goals and 20 points.