By Medicine Hat News on April 15, 2020.
Before the global pandemic brought the sports world to a screeching halt, Josh Van Mulligen envisioned himself getting ready to play in the most-scouted tournament of the year.
A week later he’d try to sneak looks at his cellphone during class while the WHL draft took place, hoping to see his name before a teacher caught him and commandeered his phone.
A lot has changed but perhaps not as much as you’d think for the 15-year-old, who on Monday was named MVP of the South East Athletic Club’s bantam AAA Tigers.
“Working out a lot more than I would’ve been,” noted the 6-foot defenceman. “We have lots of school coming in still so keeping busy with that. And also some down time. It’s probably good for me to have a little bit of a break from hockey.”
The Alberta Cup typically serves as the last chance for WHL scouts before the draft. It would’ve taken place April 29 to May 3 in Red Deer, with the draft to follow May 7.
With no Cup due to COVID-19 restrictions, the draft has moved all the way up to next Wednesday. Van Mulligen’s accolades bode well for someone looking to get picked.
In addition to the MVP award, he was also named the Tigers’ top defenceman. He also garnered the top defenceman honour from the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League’s south division.
“I hope I get drafted but it doesn’t really change how I look forward,” he noted. “I’m just going to still work hard no matter what, try and get a spot.”
With 13 goals and 14 assists in 31 games, Van Mulligen led the Tigers in scoring; rare for a blue-liner. The team finished third in its five-team division with an 11-19-3 record, then beat Airdrie in the first round of playoffs before falling to eventual division champion Red Deer the first week of March.
He estimates he’s heard from 15 WHL teams ahead of the draft, getting many of the same questions.
More than anything, he’s just glad he won’t have to worry about his phone getting confiscated on draft day.
“At least this time I’ll be at home watching it instead of at home watching it with my familyâ€¦ not getting my phone taken before I get picked,” he said with a laugh.
SEAC’s other award winners from the bantam AAA side were Elias Eisenbarth (top forward with 21 points in 32 games) and Cole Unger (most dedicated).
As for the midget 15-year-old team, goalies Landon Porteous and Kaiden Morin shared the MVP award. They split time in net as the team went 11-18-8 in the regular season, and 0-2-1 in playoffs. Morin had a 3.46 goals against average and .895 save percentage, while Porteous had a 4.44 goals against average and .865 save percentage.
Ethan Kinch was named top defenceman, Josh Drefs top forward, Matthew MacPherson most dedicated and Daniel Ganert won the Riley Martin Award.