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Broncos Add 11 Prospects During 2020 Bantam Draft

April 22, 2020 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Swift Current Broncos News Release

SWIFT CURRENT, SK - The Swift Current Broncos drafted 11 players in the 2020 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft on Wednesday. The team added one goaltender, three defencemen and seven forwards on the day.

The team used nearly all of their picks on players from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, drafting five from Saskatchewan, five from Manitoba and just one from British Columbia.

With their first pick, 21st overall, the Broncos added forward Brady Birnie from Regina. Birnie was an offensive dynamo in the Saskatchewan Bantam league this past season, scoring 56 goals while adding a league-record 72 assists in just 31 games with the Regina Monarchs. He also played three games with the Regina Pat Canadians Midget AAA team, scoring once. In the playoffs, Birnie scored six goals and four assists in just three games.

With their first of two second-round picks, the Broncos selected forward Rylan Gould from Headingly, Man., 42nd overall. Gould was the captain of his Winnipeg Monarchs team this year, and finished fifth in Manitoba Bantam scoring with 32 and 54 assists in 36 games. In 10 playoff games, Gould scored seven goals and 13 assists.

At 44th overall Swift Current added a teammate of Gould's, drafting defenceman Grayson Burzynki. The 6'3'' defenceman scored 19 times and added 39 assists with the Winnipeg Monarchs, finishing second in league scoring amongst defencemen. He added 14 points, six goals and eight assists, in 10 playoff games.

In the third round the Broncos picked another Manitoba-born defenceman, drafting Liam Saxberg 60th overall. Saxberg scored 19 times from the blueline while adding 28 assists for the Winnipeg Warriors this past season, before scoring four goals and 10 assists in 10 playoff games. He served as an alternate captain for his team.

With the first of back-to-back picks in the fourth round, Swift Current went local and drafted defenceman Nolan Stevenson from the Notre Dame Hounds. Stevenson, who hails from Shaunavon, scored six goals and 15 assists in 30 games this year. In 2018-19, Stevenson played for the Swift Current Bantam AA Broncos.

With the very next pick, the Broncos picked up forward Tyson Yaremko from the Saskatoon Stallions at 68th overall. Yaremko was a top scorer on his team with 39 goals and 37 assists in 31 games with the Stallions. He scored five goals and three assists in four playoff games.

The Broncos once again had back-to-back picks at 88 and 89, first drafting forward Van Eger from the Notre Dame Hounds. Eger, from Willow Bunch, Sask., scored 18 goals and 18 assists in 30 games with the Hounds this past season. He was teammates with Broncos 67th overall pick Nolan Stevenson.

With the 89th overall selection, the Broncos added another Saskatchewan-born prospect by drafting Connor Gabriel from Saskatoon. Gabriel played for the Saskatoon Bandits in 2019-20, scoring 25 goals and 36 assists in 30 games.

With their lone fifth-round pick, the Broncos added a goaltender to their prospect cupboard with the selection of Joey Rocha out of Nanaimo, B.C. at 109th overall. Rocha suited up for the North Island Silvertips program in 2019-20, posting a 3.35 GAA in 15 games.

After no picks in the sixth round, the Broncos selected forward Joey Lies from Flin Flon, Man. with the first pick in the seventh round, 133rd overall. Lies scored 25 goals and added 17 assists for the Norman Wolves of the Manitoba Bantam AAA league. The Wolves scored just 78 goals in 2019-20, making Lies responsible for over half of their offence this past season. His brother Justin plays for the Vancouver Giants.

With the opening pick of the 10th round, and their final pick of the draft, the Broncos once again went to Manitoba by selecting forward Brandon Funk from the Winnipeg Sharks. Funk finished second on his team in scoring in 2019-20, recording 18 goals and 20 assists in 36 games, before adding three goals and four assists in five playoff games.

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