HUMBOLDT, ANNAHEIM — May 19 might have been the happiest day Kayd Ruedig and Brady Holtvogt ever had at school.
It was at school on that day the 2007-born Humboldt duo found out they were both chosen in the Western Hockey League Prospects Draft. Ruedig, a defenceman, was taken in the fourth round, 84st overall, by the Portland Winterhawks. A goalie, Holtvogt went in the sixth round, 116th overall, to the Prince George Cougars. In the 14th round, the Lethbridge Hurricanes took Annaheim defenceman Rhett Vedress 29th overall.
“Seeing both Kayd and I get drafted was an amazing thing to see,” Holtvogt said. “We were in the same class when it happened, and we almost jumped at first when we saw his name pop up. I think it will be an amazing experience for him, and I would like to see where it takes him.”
While WHL squads grabbed many talented 2007-born athletes, the 2006-born Vedress impressed the Hurricanes enough for them to use a pick on him a year after his class’s draft year. He suited up for Muenster in A hockey in 2020-21 before playing for the U18 AA Humboldt Broncos last winter.
“Playing in Humboldt gave me the chance to grow, and also improve the elements of my game,” Vedress said.
Ruedig and Holtvogt developed their games the last two seasons in their hometown with the U15 AA Humboldt Broncos.
“Playing in Humboldt with the guys I’ve played with my entire life meant so much to me,” Ruedig said. “And playing with Lee Hamilton, Dean Beuker and Troy Walkington as my coaches, I learned so many valuable things. Those three guys know their stuff and had so much to teach us. They helped push me to the best of my abilities and really helped me improve on my skills. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to spend the season with.”
Ruedig, the son of Scott and Tammy, said being drafted by a WHL team means a lot to him.
“Improving this season and being drafted was one of my main goals throughout the season and being able to do it means a lot,” he said.
Last season the 5-foot-7 ¾, 137-pounder posted 15 goals and 34 points in 31 games. He served as an affiliate player for the U18 AAA Tisdale Trojans in seven games, recording an assist.
“I’ll start off by saying he was our team captain and was a strong leader for our group,” Broncos U15 AA head coach Lee Hamilton said earlier this year. “He’s a strong skater with great mobility. Skates the puck very well and gets involved offensively. Great shot and puck handling skills. Strong and physical in his own end. Just a great all-around player.”
Ruedig is excited for the opportunity to go to camp with the WHL’s Winterhawks.
“I’m looking forward to getting to play against some very skilled players and bettering myself,” Ruedig said. “It is going to be a great experience and I am very excited to get down there for camp.”
He has committed to play for the Trojans in 2022-23. No matter where Ruedig has played, he has had the backing of his folks.
“Both of my parents have done wonders for me,” he said. “Since I was first skating, they have always supported me. When I ask to be at the rink, they always do their best to have me there even if its multiple times a day. I can’t thank my parents enough for all they have done.”
The son of Jason and Deanna Holtvogt is looking forward to the opportunity to participate in camps with the WHL’s Cougars.
“It will be a good experience seeing what guys are doing to get better in different places,” he said. “I am also excited to meet the coaching staff of Prince George and see what they think I should improve on.”
Hamilton described the 6-foot ¼, 184-pound netminder as a big goalie who moves well and is a great teammate. Holtvogt had a 3.03 goals against average and a .915 save percentage.
“Brady was one of the top goalies in the league,” Hamilton said. “We relied heavily on Brady the second half of the season as our other goaltender, Calder Jones, had his season end early due to an injury. Brady ended up playing 18 games in a row for us. He was a big part of our push to make playoffs and was instrumental in our first-round playoff series win when we eliminated the first place Saskatoon Generals.”
Holtvogt has committed to play next season for the U18 AAA Prince Albert Mintos. He is “really looking forward to learning some new skills and techniques to get better.”
Throughout his time playing hockey, Holtvogt has appreciated the backing of his parents.
“They have really supported me on and off the ice,” he said. “They have given me the opportunity to succeed in hockey, and I have tried to do my best.”
Vedress credits his parents for the role they have played in his on-ice accomplishments.
“I honestly owe most of my success to my parents,” he said. “They have always pushed me to do my best, and always showed great support.”
Last season the 6-foot, 155-pound defenceman recorded five goals and 19 points in 32 games. U18 AA Broncos head coach Eric Sundholm praised Vedress for being reliable, making good decisions and for being willing to learn, work, and do the little things.
“He has a ton of skill and ability,” Sundholm said. “He has a pretty promising future. … He’s a big, strong kid. He moves the puck well and skates well. … He has got a ton of potential to make some bise and play higher level hockey for sure.”
Vedress said it meant a lot to him to be drafted. “I think it will be a great opportunity and it’s also an honour to be drafted into the WHL,” he said. Vedress is excited about being involved with the Hurricanes in the future.
“I am looking forward to the experience of going to their camp, and also the high calibre of hockey,” he said.
Next season Vedress will suit up for the U18 AAA Yorkton Maulers.