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 Moose Jaw Warriors

Warriors Effective with Late Picks in 2024 WHL Prospects Draft

May 9, 2024 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Moose Jaw Warriors News Release

Moose Jaw, SK - The Moose Jaw Warriors finished the 2024 WHL Prospects Draft on Thursday, bringing 11 new prospects into the organization.

The Warriors drafted five forwards, three defencemen and two goalies with their 11 selections.

"We added some sizes, we added some skill and all of them are pretty good skaters right now," Warriors general manager Jason Ripplinger said.

"Obviously there's lots of things we need to work on, but we're trying to build around our '06, '07 and '08s and these guys are going to complement the '08s as they get older."

Ripplinger said the Warriors were able to add some size on the back-end, but more important got 11 players that can skate.

"The biggest thing is we want to be good skaters and we want to be fast, like we are now, that's the culture and the team we want to build," he said.

Overall the Warriors drafted six players from Saskatoon, three from B.C. and one each from Alberta and Manitoba.

Ripplinger said it was a strong year for the draft in the Warriors' home province.

"Saskatchewan had some high-end players and some depth," he said. "Any chance you can get some players in Saskatchewan, we're a Saskatchewan-based team and it's always nice to get that flavour."

After a number of trades this season to help build the Warriors' roster, the team headed into this draft without a first round pick.

Ripplinger said this is the first time in 26 years in the league that he hasn't had a pick in the first round.

"There wasn't many challenges, you're just going into the draft with a different mindset," he said. "For us, we were able to get a player that we had in our top-20 in the second round."

The Warriors' first selection in this year's prospects draft came in the second round when they took six-foot-three defenceman Cohen Williams with the 40th overall pick.

Williams, a right-shot defenceman, hails from Cawston, B.C. and posted three goals and 20 points in 27 games with the Okanagan Hockey Academy U15 Prep team during the 2023-24 season.

"We wanted to get a little bit bigger on the back end, he's a great skater, moves the puck well, good defender, has a mean streak to his game, not overly an offensive defenceman, but a steady defenceman that can play against top players," Ripplinger said on Williams.

Moose Jaw then had two picks in the fifth round and started a stretch where the team selected three straight Saskatchewan born players.

With the 99th overall pick, the Warriors added another right-shot defenceman in Cooper Perrin from Saskatoon.

The five-foot-11 defenceman had 10 goals and 29 points in 24 games with the Saskatoon Outlaws U15 AA team this season.

"He missed some time with some injuries, so I don't know if many teams got to see him late in the year, but we did and we really liked what he brings to the game," Ripplinger said.

Two picks later, Moose Jaw selected centre Maxon Johnston with the 101st selection in the fifth round.

The five-foot-11 Johnston scored 25 goals and 44 points in 27 games with the Sask East Oilers U15 AA team this season.

"He's a big, strong forward, has pretty good hands around the net, a good skater, there's some ties there, back in my day, I played with both of his uncles, so there's some history there," Ripplinger said. "His dad was a goalie, six-foot-four, so we feel there's some room to grow."

In the sixth round, the Warriors took right winger Preston Hoppe from Humboldt with the 115th overall pick.

Hoppe had a big season with the Broncos U15 AA team as the five-foot-nine forward finished with 43 goals and 75 points in 28 games.

With their second pick in the sixth round, the Warriors added West Kelowna's Carson Smith with the 123rd overall pick.

The five-foot-11 left winger had 10 goals and 21 points in 26 games with the Okanagan Hockey Academy U15 Prep team.

In the seventh round, the Warriors selected their first goalie of the draft, taking Cade Mitchell from Gull Lake with the 152nd pick.

The five-foot-11 netminder went 15-3 with a 2.38 goals against average and a 0.922 save percentage in 18 games with the Swift Current Broncos U15 AA team this season.

Moose Jaw used the 173rd pick in the eighth round to take left defenceman Theran Turner.

The six-foot-one Brandon, MB product had four goals and 21 points in 32 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings U15 AAA team this season.

In the ninth round, the Warriors added Tobin Schaefer from North Vancouver, B.C. with the 195th pick.

The five-foot-eight left winger scored 16 goals and 29 points in 28 games with the Vancouver NW Hawks U15 AAA team during the 2023-24 season.

The Warriors picked their first Alberta-born player in the 10th round, selecting Ethan Fidalek from St. Albert.

The six-foot-three right defenceman had 13 assists and 32 penalty minutes in 34 games with the St. Albert U15 AAA Sabres this season.

Moose Jaw added another goaltender with their second pick in the 10th round, drafting Karter Hilbig from Saskatoon.

In 2023-24, the six-foot netminder went 8-7 with a 3.61 goals against average and a 0.888 save percentage in 16 games with the Saskatoon Stallions U15 AA team.

"We got two good goalies that could compete on our team one day," Ripplinger said. "You can never have enough good goalies, they're both competitive goalies, they played on good teams this year and had good years."

The Warriors' final pick of the draft was Nash Coquet from Saskatoon.

The five-foot-nine centre scored 21 goals and 51 points in 27 games with the Saskatoon Outlaws U15 AA team this season.

Back on the ice, the Warriors open the 2024 WHL Championship Series on Friday night in Portland with Game 1 against the Winterhawks.

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