TISDALE — Tisdale’s Jaxon Kehrig knew something exciting was happening when his cell phone was inundated with messages.
Many people were reaching out to the son of Leanne Kehrig after the Kelowna Rockets chose him in the fourth round, 81st overall, in May 19’s Western Hockey League Prospects Draft. Fellow Tisdale product Lucas Hvidston, the son of Brad Hvidston and Shawna Doucette, was grabbed in the 13th round, 275th, by the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“My phone started to blow up from people congratulating me and I checked and saw my name next to Kelowna,” Kehrig said. “I was checking prior to, to see where friends of mine were being drafted to. I was nervous in the days leading up to the draft, but especially the morning of. Very relieved to see that I was picked.”
Hvidston, a left winger, has committed to play next season for the U18 AAA Yorkton Maulers, while Kehrig, a centreman, will suit up for the U18 AAA Tisdale Trojans. Including Kehrig, the Trojans had three committed players for next season drafted. Humboldt defenceman Kayd Ruedig was taken by the Portland Winterhawks in the fourth round, 84st overall. The Rockets took Eric Han, a Regina right winger, in the 10th round, 205th overall.
Hvidston and Kehrig – both 2007-born - were among the 50 Saskatchewan players selected in the major junior league’s annual draft. While being drafted displays the players’ WHL potential, there is work ahead.
“I just want to thank the Hurricanes for giving me this opportunity,” Hvidston said. “I realize that getting drafted is only half the battle and that I will have to continue working hard everyday to play at that level.”
Last season Hvidston and Kehrig were key contributors to the North East Wolfpack U15 AA squad. Head coach Rob Wallington said they are two of his favourite players to have coached and that he is “truly blessed to have coached them both.” When asked about how playing for North East helped his game, Hvidston said, “I had a chance to play with some great players and for some great coaches that really helped with my development.”
Kehrig expressed his appreciation to the Rockets for selecting him. He is excited to join a great organization. What is he looking forward to most about going to camp with the Rockets in the future?
“Doing what I love to do, play hockey, in such a beautiful place,” he said. “I hear great things about Kelowna’s organization and am excited to be a part of it. I am excited to meet other players, prospects and their staff.”
The 5-foot-11, 161-pounder scored 37 goals and recorded as many assists for 74 points in 31 games last season. Earlier this year, when discussing Kehrig’s commitment to the Trojans, Wallington said, in part:
“His dedication to always get to the next level is exceptional. He works his butt off and is a great teammate. He does not always say a whole bunch but does his leading by example. When he elevates his game, so do his teammates. He is strong on both sides of the puck and has a very good hockey IQ. He does the work to get the puck to whoever has the best chance to score. He was our playmaker.”
Kehrig is thankful for everyone who has played a role in his hockey career. He expressed appreciation to his family and all of his coaches and teammates who helped him get him to where he is today.
“Mom has been huge in supporting me. She always found a way to get me where I needed to be, is my biggest fan and even played a role behind the scenes a lot of seasons as a manager. She allowed me to do a lot of extra camps, skates, play on other teams, to help me better myself through the years. Her cooking isn’t that bad, too,” joked Kehrig, who proudly noted that his younger sister Kylar also plays hockey. “My grandparents have been a huge support for me too, especially my Grandpa Len. He goes to everything. I have cousins close by that all play competitive hockey and are great support for me, as well. I’ve always had awesome coaches, teammates in my corner and even my teammates’ parents that always offered rides and cheered me on, too.”
Last winter Kehrig played six games for the Trojans as an affiliated player. He is looking forward to suiting up for the team again.
“I am excited to be the hometown kid and get all the support from Tisdale and surrounding areas,” Kehrig said. “I will spend the summer skating lots and working out and can’t wait to put it to use on the ice as
soon as the season starts. I got to get to know a lot of the players last year when I was an affiliated player with the Trojans and am excited for them to move back and to have some new players that I know already move to Tisdale in August.”
Hvidston was pleased to be selected by the Hurricanes.
“I am just excited to be given the opportunity to try to prove myself with such a great organization,” he said.
The 5-foot-8, 150-pound left winger posted 23 goals and 48 points in 25 games for the U15 AA North East team last season. He also played four games for the U18 AAA Tisdale Trojans. Of Hvidston, Wallington said he possesses, “Excellent vision and he ‘thinks/processes’ the game at a high level and very quickly - this allows him to be patient with the puck and to always make good plays.” The head coach described Hvidston as “the ultimate team player.”
“His respect for each and every teammate is top notch, and his teammates hold him in the highest regard as well. He has been a captain or assistant on every team that he has played on - his leadership skills are second to none.”
Wallington believes Hvidston has a bright future.
“He works hard,” the coach said. “He is from a hockey family, so he knows what needs to be done to be successful and to get to the next level. Wherever he plays in the future - those teams, coaches and fans will absolutely love him.”
Hvidston appreciates the backing his parents have provided him throughout his hockey career.
“They have been my biggest supporters and given me every opportunity to be my best,” he said.
Trojans & Notes
Ruedig is a 5-foot-7 ¾, 137-pound blue liner. He posted 15 goals and 34 points in 31 games for the U15 AA Humboldt Broncos. The 2007-born youngster served as an affiliate player for the Trojans in seven games, recording an assist.
Han is a 5-foot-9, 150-pound forward. Last season he had 28 goals and 55 points in 27 games for the U15 AA Regina Pat Blues. Han played four games for the U18 AAA Regina Pat Canadians last winter.
His commitment to the Trojans was announced earlier this month. On its website, the Tisdale coaching staff stated, “Eric is a very mature young man. Eric possesses a high-end skill set and hockey sense. He will be a great addition next fall.”
In the WHL Prospects Draft, Whitehorse’s Gavin McKenna was chosen first overall by the Medicine Hat Tigers. He is a 2007-born forward.
In the 13th round, the Vancouver Giants became the first Canadian Hockey League team to draft a female athlete. Chloe Primerano is a defender from North Vancouver.