The Moose Jaw Warriors focused on defence in this year's WHL Bantam Draft which makes the blue line the centre of attention to open the team's annual prospects camp.
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Before the start of prospects camp, the Moose Jaw Warriors introduced their newly listed players and the members of their 2014 Bantam Draft class: Patrick Rush, left, Chase Stephenson, Brayden Watts, Noah Gregor, Rourke Russell, Marcus Kichton, Mitchell Adamyk, Ben Shushkovsky, Mathieu Gomercic, Owen Guenter, Evan Haimila, Gianluca Esteves, Matthew Leniuk, Josh Brook, Parker McCormick and Codey Beaulieu.
While Josh Brook will garner a lot of notice after being the fourth overall pick, Marcus Kichton has little chance of slipping under the radar. Not only was Kichton taken 23rd overall, but he's following in the footsteps of his brother Brenden who was the WHL's top defenceman in 2013.
The younger Kichton said he is looking forward to getting on the ice and getting his first taste of the WHL experience Friday.
"I'm looking to play my game and play calm and be focused," said Kichton who is from Spruce Grove, Alta.
Kichton is a smooth-skating, puck moving defenceman. He had six goals and 36 points in 31 games with the Spruce Grove Saints a year ago in the Alberta Bantam league.
He said he's learned a lot from his brother, who was taken by the Spokane Chiefs' 55th overall in the 2007 draft.
"I know what to expect now," Kichton said when asked about watching his brother make the journey through the league. "I think we're almost the same player. I'm known to be a little more physical than him, but he's known to be a little more offensive."
There aren't many defencemen in the WHL who have been more offensive than Brenden Kichton in recent seasons. He tallied 85 points in 71 games in his final season to beat out Morgan Rielly as the WHL's defenceman of the year. He had 48 points in 76 games as a rookie with the St. John's Ice Caps this past season in the American Hockey League.
Marcus said he isn't feeling too much pressure and is taking each step at a time in his young hockey career.
"My goal next season is to make Major Midget AAA and just go from there," said Kichton who will be trying out for the St. Albert Sabres.
The 1999-born players have been told to that this weekend is about them learning about the team and community and to work hard and enjoy the experience.
"It takes some of the stress out of it, but you still want to do the best you can," said Kichton who said he feels calm and composed on the eve of the camp.
The Warriors introduced the rest of their draft class Thursday night before their prospects camp starts Friday morning with fitness training.
In addition, the team also began a new tradition of introducing their listed players and also presenting them with a jersey, hat and team bag.
Warriors general manager Alan Millar has always stressed in his pre-camp address that it was performance on the ice and not how a player came into the Warriors' fold that mattered. He felt treating the listed players the same as the drafted players was only right.
"It doesn't matter what number came before your name on draft or if you were drafted or listed. You have an opportunity here and if you work hard you will earn your opportunity," said Millar.
The Warriors GM cited former Warriors like Scott Schoeneck, Jason Bast, Sam Fioretti and Ryan Stanton plus Canadian Olympians Jamie Benn, Duncan Keith and Shea Webber who were all listed as WHL players and excelled.
Prospects camp begins Friday morning with fitness testing at YaraCentre, followed by an on-ice session at 3 p.m. in Caronport.
Tribe tidbits… new Warrior Kolten Olynek is also in town to help out at the camp along with current player Tanner Eberle and former players Kendall McFaull and Cody Beach… Shane Roulette and Ethan Lazaro will also be unable to attend the camp. That is now six invited players who won't attend due to injuries or illness.