Two Pirates taken in the WHL Bantam Draft

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Tanner Howe, left, and Brady Smith served as assistant captains for the Prince Albert Venice House Pirates this season.

Prince Albert products Tanner Howe and Brady Smith were in completely different situations when they found out that a pair of Western Hockey League teams had drafted them.

“I was just sitting at home with my family and I didn’t have any idea where or if I would be drafted,” Howe said. “Once my name came up on the screen, I was getting texts from all over the place.”

“I was a little bit nervous…so I was just sitting in our hot tub when my dad saw that I was picked and he came over to tell me,” Smith said. “Then right after that there was another Brady Smith (a goaltender from Cloverdale, B.C.) that was picked right after me (by the Lethbridge Hurricanes), which was a little strange.”

The Prince Albert Venice House Bantam AA Pirates assistant captains were among the 53 players from Saskatchewan that were chosen during Wednesday’s draft.

Howe was picked by the Regina Pats in the fourth round with the 73rd overall selection, while Smith was selected by the Vancouver Giants in the sixth round with the 122nd overall pick.

“It’s an honour to be drafted by the Pats,” Howe said. “It’s close to home, which is nice, and knowing that (first overall pick) Connor Bedard is going to be there is pretty cool.”

“The Giants have been one of my favourite teams to watch over the last couple of years and it was really cool to see (Colorado Avalanche prospect Bowen) Byram in person last year when they played the Raiders during the WHL final,” Smith added. “Everything about the entire team seems great already.”

Howe, who stands 5’6” and weighs 145 lbs., has spent the last two seasons as a centreman for the Pirates.

After posting 23 points in his rookie campaign, Howe led the Pirates in scoring with 75 points in 31 games this past season and had seven points in three games during the playoffs.

“Tanner reminds me an awful lot of (Prince Albert product and Portland Winterhawks forward) Gabe Klassen,” Pirates head coach Rod Dallman said. “They both play a very similar game. They are good scorers, good 200-foot players and good team guys.

“If Tanner was a couple of inches taller, I think he would have probably gone higher in the draft than he did today.”

Smith, who is 6’1” and weighs 150 lbs., was also in his second season with the Pirates.

The blueliner improved upon his 10-point rookie campaign with 16 points in 23 games and also scored a goal during their opening round playoff series with the Saskatoon Generals.

“Brady had some bad luck with injuries over the last couple of years, which kept him out of a lot of games,” Dallman said.

“However, he really put together a good string of games this season that turned a lot of heads and it resulted in a lot of scouts talking to him, which was great to see.”

When it comes to their future plans, Howe will be moving up to the Saskatchewan Male Under-18 AAA Hockey League to play with the Prince Albert Mintos, while Smith has yet to finalize his plans for the 2020-21 campaign.

It was a banner day for bantam-aged talent from Saskatchewan as seven players (Riley Heidt, Brayden Yager, Kalan Lind, Sam Oremba, Reid Andersen, Quinn Mantei and Brady Birnie) were selected in the first round.

That’s the most skaters from the province to be chosen at the start of the draft since six players (Ryan Pilon, Reid Gardiner, Jordan Harris, Rourke Chartier, Miles Warkentine and Collin Shirley) were picked in 2011.

“It really shows where we are at with our development and the coaching that the guys get throughout the league,” Dallman said. “It also wasn’t isolated to one team as well, as there were guys that were drafted from all over the place.

“I know some of the players are disappointed that they weren’t picked today, but it’s not the end of their careers. It’s an opportunity for them to work hard during the summer and get noticed by teams.”

Another Saskatchewan player that was selected on Wednesday was future Mintos blueliner Rhett Ravndahl.

The Birch Hills product, who had 29 points in 31 games this season for the North East Wolfpack, was selected in the fourth round by the Portland Winterhawks with the 83rd overall pick.