Langley defenceman Aidan De La Gorgendiere was selected in the first round, fifth overall, by the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League bantam draft on May 4. Photo illustration courtesy of Saskatoon Blades

Langley defenceman Aidan De La Gorgendiere was selected in the first round, fifth overall, by the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League bantam draft on May 4. Photo illustration courtesy of Saskatoon Blades

Blades nab Langley defender fifth overall

Langley’s Aidan De La Gorgendiere selected in first round of Western Hockey League bantam draft

Two wishes came true for Aidan De La Gorgendiere on Thursday morning.

The first was to get selected in the Western Hockey League bantam draft and the second was for the team to be the Saskatoon Blades.

The Blades obliged, picking the six-foot 159-pound defenceman from Langley in the first round, fifth overall.

“I wanted to go to Saskatoon because both my parents are from there and I still have family and friends who live there,” he explained. “I felt like this was a good opportunity for me.”

The Blades described De La Gorgendiere as a “complete player with all the intangibles” on their website.

This past season, he had five goals and 26 points in 30 games for the Yale Lions bantam prep team.

Brad Rihela, who coached De La Gorgendiere this past season at the Yale Hockey Academy, raved about the defenceman.

“Quite frankly, if I had the first overall pick, I would have taken him, that’s how good I think he is and how good I believe he is going to be,” Rihela said.

“He competes hard, but he makes things look easy; he makes plays under pressure, never panics, can play in all situations.

Just your prototypical defenceman.”

“I feel like I am a shutdown defender who can put up points,” De La Gorgendiere said.

In addition to being the first of four Langley players chosen in the 2017 draft, De La Gorgendiere also made a bit of history with his fifth overall selection.

That matched Josh Williams’ selection from the 2016 WHL draft, the highest-ever for a Langley-raised player.

“Truly awesome, not many people get to go that high and I am truly honoured,” De La Gorgendiere said, adding it is even more special as the pair are friends.

Growing up, he never thought about one day getting drafted into the WHL.

De La Gorgendiere began his minor hockey in Mission before his family moved to Langley when he was a first-year peewee player. That is also when he realized he could have a future in the sport.

“I just thought this would be a sport I would play (but) then I realized I had an opportunity to become a player,” he said.

In addition to De La Gorgendiere’s selection, three other Langley boys heard their names called at the draft.

Braydon Clark, a five-foot-10, 172-pound defenceman from Kelowna’s Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy, went in round three (47th overall)to the Prince Albert Raiders.

Clark had three goals and 14 points in 27 games for POE.

He called it a great feeling but just the beginning of a lot more hard work.

“But getting drafted just gives me motivation to work harder,” he said.

Clark has committed to the Valley West Hawks of the BC Major Midget Hockey League for next season.

He described his game as a physical defender who likes to play the body.

Dylan Anderson went in the fourth round (75th overall) to the Everett Silvertips while Brody Gagno went in round six (113th overall) to the Prince George Cougars.

Anderson is five-foot-seven and 155 pounds while Gagno is five-foot-10 and 157-pounds. Both are defencemen with the Yale bantam prep team.

“It is overwhelming; I am pretty excited,” Anderson said about getting selected by Everett. “They have a great organization.”

Gagno, who had two goals and 13 points in 29 games, was hoping to get picked but had no idea when or who would call his name.

“It was a pretty big goal, but it was not the end-all, be-all,” he said.

Rihela raved about both players.

He called Gagno a ‘heart-and-soul’ player and a ‘steal’ for Prince George in the sixth round.

“(Brody) brings his work ethic every day and would do anything to see his team win,” Rihela said.

“He is probably one of the most underrated player in our league, if not the most underrated, in my opinion.”

Rihela said that while Anderson may be smaller than some of his peers, his speed and strength stand out.

“He is very good one-on-one and skating is his biggest asset — the kid can flat out move,” the coach said.

“(He has) unbelievable edges and he can move laterally.”

Anderson had two goals and 10 points in 28 games.