BERWICK, NS - Three Valley Wildcats midget players – Robbie Dowell, Johnathan Pickrem, and Brady Burns – were selected recently in the 2018 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) entry draft, which took place earlier this month in Shawinigan, Quebec.
Burns was the top Valley player drafted, chosen by the Saint John Sea Dogs in the second round as the 29th pick overall.
The 16-year-old Port Williams native, who was the midget Wildcats assistant captain last season, was also chosen by the junior A Wildcats in the 10th round in the recent MHL draft held in Berwick.
The five-foot-seven, 141-pound centre says he’s excited for the opportunity to advance his hockey career in the QMJHL.
“It’s really a big step for me getting drafted,” said Burns. “It’s a start to something big in Saint John, we have a good, young group who will be a contender for many seasons in the future.”
Junior A Wildcats head coach Travis Young believes that Burns has the skill and ability to do well in the QMJHL.
“He has a good chance of playing with them this season,” said Young. “He’s a very skilled player, great offensively, and I think that’ll be his ticket to having success at that level.”
Pickrem was selected 124th overall in the seventh round by the Halifax Mooseheads.
“I didn’t really believe it,” said the 16-year-old Windsor Junction native. “Being drafted by the team I grew up watching, it was an unbelievable feeling and accomplishment.”
The six-foot, 163-pound goaltender played his first year of midget with the Valley Wildcats this past season and was called up for two games with the Valley Maple Leafs junior B team.
Pickrem was also the Valley junior A Wildcats seventh-round pick, 75th overall, in the MHL draft earlier this month in Berwick.
“It was very awesome to be drafted by the team I played my first-year midget in,” said Pickrem.
Young recalled seeing Pickrem in action while coaching at the bantam level two years ago. Pickrem, he says, is one of the top two players in the league and Young believes his future is bright.
“He’s a real good, technical, solid goaltender,” Young said. “I think (he) has got a bright future going forward at the junior level.”
Dowell, a 17-year-old Middleton native, and midget team captain, was a 12th-round pick for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, selected 215th overall.
The six-foot-two, 185-pound right winger has played with the Valley Wildcats organization for the past three years, including playing 12 games with the junior A team this past season.
Dowell said he’s extremely excited to be drafted by Acadie-Bathurst.
“It’s an honour to be drafted by such a high-class organization, especially after they just won the Memorial Cup,” said Dowell. “I am very thankful for the opportunity to take my game to the next level.”
Dowell plans to train hard this summer in hopes of cracking the roster when the time comes to play.
“I am focusing on power skating and strength training to improve my skating abilities,” said Dowell. “Playing for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan would be a dream come true for me.”
Young believes Dowell has a lot of potential.
“He’s a great kid,” said Young. “He’s the type of kid that’s gonna go in there and work extremely hard, and if he shows kind of what I’m expecting he will show, I think he’s got a great chance of staying up there as well.”