Red Deer, Alta. – The Western Hockey League, in partnership with the Red Deer Rebels, announced today a three-year commitment to the City of Red Deer as the new host site of the annual WHL Awards and WHL Bantam Draft, effective May 2018.
“We are delighted today to announce, on behalf of the WHL Board of Governors, that we are going to make a three-year commitment to bring the WHL Awards and WHL Bantam Draft to the community of Red Deer,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Red Deer is quite a community and you’ve left your mark on this country in a big way. Fond memories of the Mastercard Memorial Cup right here in May 2016 has left a real impression across, not only the Western Hockey League but the Canadian Hockey League and the hockey community in this country.”
The 2018 WHL Awards, which will be held Wednesday, May 2, showcases the season’s best players, coaches, officials and executives through 13 individual WHL Awards along with the WHL Scholastic Team of the Year Award. The WHL Awards features the latest crop of WHL stars, many whom will soon begin pursuing NHL careers.
“It is an incredible honour for Red Deer to be named as the host city for the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft and home of the WHL Awards,” commented City of Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer. “Securing the WHL Bantam Draft and WHL Awards means yet another game-changing opportunity for our community to solidify Red Deer’s proud hockey heritage, our commitment to sport excellence, sports tourism as a driver for our local economy as well as Red Deer’s emergence on the national and international stage for hosting major sports events.”
The 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, which will be held Thursday, May 3, represents one of the most important days on the calendar for all 22 WHL member Clubs as they gather to select players with an eye on the future from throughout Western Canada and the Western United States.
“There are a lot of exciting things happening for our community and from a Red Deer Rebels perspective, we’re obviously thrilled to be able to help host these events,” commented Red Deer Rebels Owner, Governor, President, General Manager and Head Coach Brent Sutter. “It’s not possible without the tremendous support from our fans, corporate sponsorship, Mayor Veer and the City, and the staff at Westerner Park.”
Many players selected in the WHL Bantam Draft go on to be NHL stars, including former first-round bantam picks Nolan Patrick (Brandon Wheat Kings / Philadelphia Flyers), Mathew Barzal (Seattle Thunderbirds / New York Islanders), Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors / Tampa Bay Lightning), Sam Reinhart (Kootenay ICE / Buffalo Sabres), Seth Jones (Portland Winterhawks / Columbus Blue Jackets), Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw Warriors / Toronto Maple Leafs), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer Rebels / Edmonton Oilers), Brayden Schenn (Brandon Wheat Kings / St. Louis Blues), Carey Price (Tri-City Americans / Montreal Canadiens), Brent Seabrook (Lethbridge Hurricanes / Chicago Blackhawks), Jay Bouwmeester (Medicine Hat Tigers / St. Louis Blues), Scott Hartnell (Prince Albert Raiders / Nashville Predators), and Patrick Marleau (Seattle Thunderbirds / Toronto Maple Leafs).
The Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer will serve as the host venue for both the WHL Awards and WHL Bantam Draft.