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Giants add nine via WHL bantam draft

Vancouver adds six forwards, two defencemen and one goaltender
Justin Sourdif met with Vancouver Giants head coach Jason McKee on May 4 after the Giants selected the Surrey forward third overall in the WHL bantam draft. Sourdif was one of nine players drafted by Vancouver. Submitted photo

The Vancouver Giants got exactly what they were looking for, and then some, in Thursday’s Western Hockey League bantam draft.

Picking third overall, the Giants selected Surrey’s Justin Sourdif with their first pick.

The five-foot-nine, 158-pound centre spent this past season with the Delta Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team, registering 32 goals and 66 points in 29 games.

“Starting the draft off with Justin Sourdif was obviously a big piece for us,” said Jason Ripplinger, the Giants director of player personnel.

“To get (someone) who is a 200-foot player and has lots of skill and with plays with an edge? Those guys are hard to come by after the draft.”

Vancouver then used their two second-round selections on Kelowna defenceman Tanner Brown (Pursuit of Excellence) and West Vancouver’s Cole Shepard, who played alongside Sourdif with the Delta prep team.

Shepard, who was taken 33rd overall, had 19 goals and 28 assists in 30 games.

Both Sourdif and Shepard, a five-foot-eight, 142-pounder, will bring speed and skill up front to the Giants, Ripplinger said.

Brown is a five-foot-11, 170-pound blue-liner who plays a solid two-way game and can move the puck.

“From where he was at the beginning of the year to the end of the year, he really brought his game to a peak so we are happy with that,” Ripplinger said.

He added that the team had targeted using their first pick of the second round (24th overall) on a defenceman as this year’s crop of blue-liners was thin.

And while every team’s draft board is different, Ripplinger said Vancouver had all three players rated as first rounders.

The Giants then used both of their third round picks on forwards, nabbing Krz Plummer (Whitecourt, Alta.) 46th and John Little (Parksville) 60th.

“We added size with some guys who do a good job of protecting the puck and have pretty good hands around the net,” Ripplinger said.

Plummer, a six-foot 195-pound forward, played for Pursuit of Excellence’s bantam prep team and eight goals and 13 assists in 21 games.

Little, a five-foot-11, 171-pound winger, played for the Shawnigan Lake School bantam prep team and led them in scoring with 13 goals and 14 assists in 27 games.

Ripplinger said if all of the team’s picks in rounds one to three panned out, that would be considered a ‘home-run’ draft.

With no picks in the fourth or fifth rounds, Vancouver traded a sixth and seventh-rounder to trade back into the fifth round, selecting Delta’s Braedy Euerby 103rd overall.

The goaltender played for the Delta Hockey Academy’s Varsity Green team this past season, going 11-0 with a 0.45 goals against average and a .970 save percentage.

With not many goalies remaining on their list, Ripplinger said they felt a move up was necessary.

“I believe we need to draft a goalie every year, just in case one doesn’t pan out for whatever reason,” he said.

The Giants rounded out their draft day with Jacob Gendron (six-foot, 190 pounds), Alex Saretzky (five-foot-eight, 139 pounds) and Ryan Mulrenin (five-foot-nine, 150 pounds) in rounds six, eight and nine, respectively.

Gendron is a defenceman from Prince George, Saretzky a right-winger from Saskatoon and Mulrenin is a forward from Plymouth, Minn.

Up next for the Giants is their prospects camp later this month.