WHL announces Academic Spotlight for January

WHL Network
Larry Brunt

Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today the Academic Spotlight for January, focusing on the Central Division. Each month, all 22 teams identify one academic achiever who showed excellence in the classroom. This month’s Spokane Chiefs representative is rookie forward Adam Beckman. Congratulations, Adam!

From the WHL announcement:

The Western Hockey League announced today the Academic Spotlight for January, featuring the Central Division. Academic achievers recognized this month include defenceman Luke Prokop of the Calgary Hitmen, forward Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings, forward Peyton Krebs of the Kootenay ICE, forward Logan Barlage of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, forward James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers, and defenceman Ryan Gottfried of the Red Deer Rebels.

During the months of November through February, each of the WHL’s 22 member Clubs will name an Academic Achiever, as selected by the Club’s Education Advisor. Each month, one WHL Division will have its Academic Achievers celebrated in the Academic Spotlight:
Academic Spotlight Schedule
November – B.C. Division
December – East Division
January – Central Division
February – U.S. Division

WHL players recognized as Academic Achievers are observed as those striving to reach their full potential in their educational programs while balancing WHL commitments.


Luke Prokop, Calgary Hitmen: Prokop, a 16-year-old rookie defenceman with the Hitmen, is earning deserved attention on the ice and in the classroom. Having previously attended John Maland High School, Prokop has earned honours in Chemistry, English, Career and Technology Studies, and Physical Education at the Edge School for Athletes.

“Luke is a conscientious student who, along with managing a hectic game and training schedule, maintains a focus and commitment to academic excellence,” said English teacher Rachael Wild. “He is a thoughtful, insightful and hard-working student.”

The first-round 2017 WHL Bantam Draft selection from Edmonton, Alta. has 10 points (1G-9A) through 62 WHL regular season games and represented Canada White last November at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Prokop has also won a pair of Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) Championships as well as a silver medal at the 2017 WHL Cup with Team Alberta.

Jake Neighbours, Edmonton Oil Kings: Neighbours, a 16-year-old rookie forward with the Oil Kings, is excelling with the Central Division leaders on the ice and in the classroom at Salisbury Composite High School. Recently completing his first semester, Neighbours earned honours in English 20-1, Math 20-1, Physical Education 20, and Leadership.

“Jake is a natural leader and a positive role model, on and off the ice,” said Oil Kings’ Education Advisor Sharon Sereda. “This is Jake’s first year with the team, however one would think he is a veteran player due to his leadership skills, intensity and character. He has very high expectations of himself and his teammates, expecting nothing but one’s personal best at all times.”

In his rookie season with the Oil Kings, Neighbours has accumulated 19 points (8G-11A) in 35 games after collecting four assists in 11 games last season. The Airdrie, Alta. product captained Alberta to a silver medal at the 2017 WHL Cup and also recently served as captain of Canada White at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.


Peyton Krebs, Kootenay ICE: 2019 NHL Draft prospect and ICE captain Peyton Krebs is leading by example at Mount Baker Secondary School/Kootenay Educational Services. The 18-year-old forward is excelling in English 12, Biology 12, and Strength and Conditioning 12, completing his high school graduation requirements early.

“You can tell Peyton is a leader on and off the ice – his focus, dedication and attitude have all contributed to his outstanding achievement as well as being a positive role model for our school,” said English teacher Jeff Coolbaugh.

The Okotoks, Alta. product is currently ranked eighth among North American skaters in advance of the 2019 NHL Draft and leads his team with 60 points (18G-42A) in 50 games. Last month, Krebs participated in the 2019 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Red Deer, Alta. as a member of Team Cherry.


Logan Barlage, Lethbridge Hurricanes: 2019 NHL Draft prospect and Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Logan Barlage is a rising star in the classroom. Attending Chinook High School, Barlage is earning top marks in English 30-1, Math 30-2, Work Experience 35, Special Projects 30, English 30 B, and Native Studies 30.

“Logan has a sense of maturity beyond his years, and his focus on his course work has drawn the attention and respect of his teachers,” said Hurricanes’ Academic Advisor Jim Stewart. “Logan is an incredible young man and exemplifies the excellence of a WHL player.”

The Humboldt, Sask. product has 28 points (11G-17A) in 54 games with the Hurricanes this season, helping them remain competitive in the tight Central Division race. Last season, Barlage represented Canada White at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.


James Hamblin, Medicine Hat Tigers: Medicine Hat Tigers captain and 19-year-old forward James Hamblin is going above and beyond to achieve his academic goals. Enrolling in courses at Athabasca University, Hamblin is currently pursuing a passion in Economics.

“His work ethic in the classroom was a pleasure to behold,” said Tigers’ Education Advisor Gary McDougall. “James has been a top student while dealing with the very busy schedule of a major junior hockey player.”

Having been a part of the team’s last two division title runs, the Edmonton, Alta. product has the Tigers in the hunt from a three-peat atop the Central Division. His 66 points (31G-35A) in 55 games lead the Tigers and rank 11th in WHL scoring overall.


Ryan Gottfried, Red Deer Rebels: Rookie defenceman Ryan Gottfried of the Red Deer Rebels is setting a strong example of academic excellence early on in his WHL career. Attending St. Gabriel’s Online School, Gottfried has maintained honours standing in English and Biology while posting strong marks in Physical Education, Math, and Computer Courses as part of his Grade 12 studies.

“With his positive, pleasant, and hard-working nature, he is a great example of a dedicated junior hockey player both on the ice and in the classroom,” said Rebels’ Academic Advisor Jim Bolding.

The 17-year-old product of Winnipeg, Man. has recorded seven points (1G-6A) in 34 games with the Rebels this season, serving as a promising part to the Rebels’ future on the blue line.

WHL Academic Achievers – January

Club Player Name School/Institution
Brandon Ty Thorpe Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School
Moose Jaw Kaeden Taphorn Athabasca University
Prince Albert Jakob Brook Carlton Comprehensive High School
Regina Liam Schioler Athabasca University
Saskatoon Kirby Dach City Park School – FLEX Program
Swift Current Carter Chorney Swift Current Comprehensive High School
Kamloops Ryley Appelt Thompson River University
Kelowna Devin Steffler Kelowna Secondary
Prince George Jack Sander Prince George Secondary School
Vancouver Nic Draffin South Delta Secondary School
Victoria Brock Gould BJU Press Distance Learning
Everett Reece Vitelli National University Virtual High School
Portland Nick Perna Sunset High School
Seattle Tyrel Bauer Kentwood High School
Spokane Adam Beckman Joel E. Ferris High School
Tri-City Blake Stevenson Kamiakin High School

Fully funded by WHL member Clubs, all current WHL players are encouraged to enroll in post-secondary courses. This season, over 160 current players are taking post-secondary courses while playing in the WHL. The financial assistance received for post-secondary studies while playing does not impact on the WHL Scholarship benefits a WHL player is entitled to upon graduating from the League.

Every player who plays in the WHL is eligible to receive the WHL Scholarship. For every season a player plays in the WHL, they receive a guaranteed, full-year WHL Scholarship, including tuition, textbooks and compulsory fees to a post-secondary institution of their choice. The WHL Scholarship is a fully-guaranteed academic scholarship with no requirement to play university hockey to qualify.

About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 350 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.

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