Pirates players and future Mintos selected in SJHL Bantam Draft

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Venice House Pirates forward Tanner Howe celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal for his team against the Saskatoon Generals during the playoffs.

The Prince Albert Venice House Pirates and the Prince Albert Mintos had strong showings at this year’s Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Bantam Draft as players associated with each program were selected on Friday afternoon.

Pirates forward Tanner Howe led the way for local players as he was taken second overall by the Weyburn Red Wings.

Howe, who was a fourth round pick by the Regina Pats in April’s Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, led the Pirates in scoring last year with 75 points in 31 games.

He has committed to play for his hometown Mintos in the Saskatchewan Male Under-18 AAA Hockey League next year.

Pirates blueliner Danton Cox, who recently signed with the Mintos for the 2020-21 campaign, was taken in the second round by the Humboldt Broncos.

Cox spent the last two seasons in the Bantam AA ranks and had 34 points in 25 games during the 2019-20 campaign.

Two more members of the Pirates defence were selected in the third round as Brady Smith and Caden Dunn were drafted by the Red Wings and the Nipawin Hawks respectively.

Smith, who was a sixth round pick by the Vancouver Giants in the WHL Bantam Draft, had 16 points in 23 games this past season and has committed to the Swift Current Legionnaires for next year.

Like his teammates, Dunn was also in his second campaign with the Pirates and had 12 points in 31 games.

The fifth and final Pirates player to be selected on Friday was forward Roper Blanchard, who went to the Battlefords North Stars in the fifth round.

Blanchard had 31 points in 23 games in his sophomore season in the Bantam AA ranks and also suited up once for the Prince Albert Dairy Queen Chill Midget AA program during the 2019-20 campaign

In addition to Howe and Cox, five other future members of the Mintos were chosen on Friday.

Forward Tysen Durant and Zach Bansley joined Howe as first round selections, as they were taken fifth and 10th overall by the Hawks and the Melfort Mustangs respectively.

Durant, who is from Martensville, had 52 points in 30 games for his hometown Marauders and was a ninth round pick by the Spokane Chiefs in April.

Bansley, who calls Tisdale home, put up 86 points in 31 games for the North East Wolfpack last year and was taken by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL Bantam Draft.

Forward Karson Blanchette of Unity, who had 48 points in 26 games for the West Central Wheat Kings and was a fourth round pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds two months ago, went to the Mustangs in the third round.

The Humboldt Broncos would use a fourth round selection on Birch Hills blueliner Rhett Ravendahl, who suited up four times for the Mintos last year.

He also had 29 points in 31 games for the Wolfpack and was a fourth round pick by the Portland Winterhawks in April.

Rounding the group of future Mintos talent to be selected on Friday was blueliner Nate Misskey, who went to his hometown Mustangs in the sixth round.

Misskey, who was chosen by the Victoria Royals in the third round of the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft, had 30 points in 30 games last season for the Victoria based Pacific Coast Hockey Academy of the Canadian Sports School Hockey League.

A total of 69 players were taken during this year’s draft, with forward Blake Gutzke going to the Melville Millionaires with the first overall selection.

Gutzke, who is from Francis, had 59 points in 31 games for the Weyburn Wings last year and has committed to the Estevan Bears for next season.