Matthew Savoie was the first overall selection at the 2019 Western Hockey League U-15 Draft. As he waits for training camp with the Winnipeg ICE, Savoie has joined the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

The Crusaders is the same team where his brother, Carter played with for the past two seasons. Carter scored 53 times last season — he had 99 points — and now he has moved up to play with the University of Denver Pioneers Division I team.

The Winnipeg ICE followed that selection up by taking Conor Geekie of Strathclair, Manitoba. The Prince George Cougars followed Winnipeg as they drafted Keaton Dowhaniuk and Koehn Ziemmer.

Wheat Kings on the clock:

Brandon had the fifth and sixth overall selections. With the fifth pick, they went to Red Deer as they drafted young superstar, Nate Danielson. Leading up to the draft, Danielson scored 26 times and had 59 points in 29 games with the Red Deer U-15 Rebels.

He then went on to torch opponents in the playoffs.  He had another 22 points — nine of which were goals — in just 12 games. Danielson also had four goals in two games with the Red Deer Northstar U-16 AAA Chiefs.

“It was really exciting for my family and me when Brandon drafted me,” said Danielson. “I’ve heard so many great things about the Wheat Kings franchise. It was an honour to see my name on the board.”

The Wheat Kings remained on the clock as they went just down the road to Russell, Manitoba, where they selected Tyson Zimmer.

Zimmer is playing with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League right now and he has eight points in 10 games. He was also recently named the Northwest Division Star of the Week.

Big year:

Nate had 60 points in just 27 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep team last season as they play in the Canadian School Sport Hockey League. 27 of the points were goals as he continued his offensive domination. The 60 points were the 11th most in the league.

The fifth overall selection added five more points in two playoff games.

“I thought I had a solid year and we had a really strong team,” offered Danielson. “It was a great year that was full of development and great coaching.”

On top of his great play with Northern Alberta, Nate was provided with an opportunity to represent the country. He played on the U-16 Team Canada, a team that competed at the Youth Olympic Games.

It was Danielson’s first appearance on the international stage and he certainly made the most of it. In four games, he found the back of the net twice and he also chipped in with one assist. The team, well they won a bronze medal.

“That was an experience that I will never forget,” said Danielson. “It was such an incredible honour to be able to represent this great country. I loved every minute of it and we had a great group of guys. It was awesome that we were able to win a bronze medal.”

New year, same domination:

There’s no doubt that the 2019-2020 season was one that Nate will never forget. Between playing on Team Canada and tearing it up with Northern Alberta, it was a tremendous year for the young man.

This year, as he waits for Wheat Kings training camp, he’s playing with the Red Deer U-18 AAA Chiefs. In just five games to start the season, he’s already scored six goals. His 10 points are tied for the eighth-most in the Alberta Elite Hockey League.

“I’m off to a solid start in a weird year with everything that is going on,” said Danielson. “I’m just trying to make the most of any chances I get. It’s important that I continue to improve every time I hit the ice.”

What’s next?

If you were to ask Nate, the simple answer would be a regular season with the Brandon Wheat Kings as a 16-year-old.

After taking part in his first training camp with the organization last year, Danielson’s goal is to make the team this season. It won’t be an easy feat as the Wheat Kings will be an experienced top-end team but it’s a goal that Nate does believe he can achieve.

“My goal is to have a good year in Brandon,” ended Danielson. “I’m just preparing now so I give myself the best chance possible. I’m really looking forward to another main camp with them and we’ll see how it goes.”

Training camps across the WHL are expected to open after the Christmas break ahead of the season beginning on January 8.