Special to the Herald
Based on just his draft status, Dallyn Peekeekoot might always be an underdog story.
Peekeekoot was selected by the Prince Albert Raiders in the 10th round and 220th overall in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, which is now know as the WHL Prospects Draft. With that selection, the product of the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation had no guarantees of being a WHL regular.
The draft selection meant he would have a chance to come to at least a couple of Raiders training camps to try and make an impression. The high energy right-winger ended up being able to do just that.
Peekeekoot cracked the Raiders roster as a 16-year-old to play a shortened regular season in a bubble environment at the Brandt Centre in Regina this past March and April against the WHL’s other member teams from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The shortened season was developed to allow teams to play with health orders that were in place to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Peekeekoot, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 208 pounds, got into 15 of the Raiders 24 games in the Regina hub centre posting four goals, two assists and a minus-two rating in the plus-minus department.
His best outing came on April 8, when he had a goal, two assists and took part in a fight in 5-3 setback against the archrival Saskatoon Blades.
During that shortened campaign, it was common for the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation to hold drive-in watch parties to watch Peekeekoot play on big video screens.
He played with a lot of energy and feistiness, but he was under control. Peekeekoot only had 12 penalty minutes for the campaign.
With the way he played that season, Peekeekoot fit the mould of the romantic vision of the textbook Raiders player.
Add in that he came from the place that is the home to late great hockey ambassador Fred Sasakamoose, it amplifies Peekeekoot’s story in that he is following in Sasakamoose’s strides.
So far this season as a 17-year-old sophomore, Peekeekoot has a goal and a minus-one rating appearing in all of the Raiders games as they struggled out to a 2-7 start. Despite the start, Peekeekoot has still brought a good effort level to each game.
As a 10th round draft selection, he has already surpassed any expectations of what a team can get from a player picked in that spot.
Still, you hope Peekeekoot continues to give more reasons to cheer him as his WHL career goes on.
WHL notes: Blade dynamic duo start hot, Pats struggle
The Saskatoon Blades dynamic duo of Tristen Robins and Kyle Crnkovic have picked up where they left off the past two seasons.
In helping the Blades get out to a 6-1-1 start, Robins, who is his 20-year-old and is signed by the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, has four goals, 11 assists and a plus-four rating playing his centre position. Crnkovic, who has been the left-winger on Robin’s line since the start of the 2019-20 season, has six goals, six assists and an even rating.
For the bulk of their WHL careers, Robins and Crnkovic, who is 19-years-old, have been consistent scorers. In their swan song season as linemates, you can expect them to continue to score and help the Blades pile up wins.
- Safe to say a 9-0 start makes the Winnipeg Ice the team to beat in the WHL this season. On a side note, Brian Munz, who was the Raiders play-by-play voice from 2001 to 2004, became the Ice play-by-play voice at the start of this season.
- Phenom centre Connor Bedard is starting to encounter some struggles 16-year-olds go through in the WHL. The Pats have slipped to 2-7 and are currently on a seven-game losing streak. Over those nine games, Bedard has four goals, two assists and a minus-nine rating.
Darren Steinke is a Saskatoon-based freelance sportswriter and photographer with more than 20 years of experience covering the WHL. He blogs frequently at stankssermon.blogspot.com, where he covers the Saskatoon Hilltops, Saskatoon Valkyries, University of Saskatchewan men’s and women’s hockey, U Sports football and Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey. He has the distinction of being in the building both times Game Seven of the WHL final went to overtime, including 2019 in Prince Albert.