September 25th, 2020

Local products go one by one at WHL draft

By Medicine Hat News on April 23, 2020.

PHOTO COURTESY JAYLYN WERELY/CHARISMA PHOTOGRAPHY - Dawson Seitz, seen in this undated photo playing for the SEAC Tigers bantam AAA team, was one of four Medicine Hat players drafted into the WHL Wednesday.

When he broke his jaw in the second game of the season, Dawson Seitz got back on the ice within weeks.

When his collarbone was broken during his first game back in the lineup, he sucked it up and worked even harder in the gym.

And when the global pandemic cut his last chance at impressing scouts ahead of the WHL draft, the 15-year-old from Medicine Hat barely batted an eye.

It seems teams knew his worth already.

Seitz was among three Hat products picked in Wednesday’s draft, going in the first round, 20th overall to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

“I took the time to get bigger and stronger,” said the talented forward. “With my injuries I could still skate.

“The biggest thing I learned being injured was being resilient, not letting things bother me as much … to stay positive.”

Southeast Athletic Club teammate Josh Van Mulligen was next to be taken, a dream pick in the second round, 39th overall by his hometown Medicine Hat Tigers.

“I just remember watching past Tigers, (Emerson) Etem scoring 50 goals that one year … I remember the atmosphere, the fans how loud they are,” said Van Mulligen, the SEAC bantam AAA captain. “It’s going to be awesome.”

The Tigers also added SEAC’s Cole Unger in the 10th round (206th overall). Both defencemen, Unger and Van Mulligen manned the point on their team’s power play.

If you include ex-SEAC player Shane Smith of Cessford, taken in the third round (51st overall) by the Tigers, it’s the most locals picked in a WHL draft since 2013.

That year, the class included Jaeger White, Michael Clarke, Jordan Taupert and Michael Doneff. All but Doneff were on university teams this past season after stellar junior careers.

While Seitz doesn’t have any Oil Kings gear yet, Van Mulligen has plenty of options in orange and black including an old jersey with his name on the back. Lucky for him, no current player wears his No. 2.

“Hopefully I get that, but if not I’ll be fine with another one,” he said.

Seitz overcame a lot this past season, eventually getting into action for seven late-season contests and five playoff games where he combined for 10 goals and two assists. The centre would have benefitted from the Alberta Cup all-star tournament that was cancelled, but scouts knew enough anyways.

“Dawson is a very skilled forward and dynamic skater with one of the best shots in the draft,” said Oil Kings director of scouting Jamie Porter in a press release. “His injury probably affected his draft status, but we’re very excited that he was available when it was our turn to pick at 20.”

Van Mulligen was well-known, the captain of his bantam team and its leading scorer with 27 points in 31 games.

His family made seeing his name first on the draft board a game, won by his sister Chelsea. The celebratory group hug that followed reminded him just how special and rare it is to be picked by a hometown team. Taupert was the last Hatter selected by the Tigers seven years ago.

“I just had a really good feeling about the Tigers,” said Van Mulligen. “We held our breaths, didn’t say anything. Then finally on our TV my name popped up.”

They all know this is just the beginning. Normally, they’d have heard from teams when spring camps will occur; instead it was just a lot of congratulations and welcome to the team.

They’re fine with that.

“At the moment of my injuries I was thinking of (the draft) a little too much,” said Seitz. “But it doesn’t really matter how high you get drafted, as long as you go to the place you want to go to. Edmonton’s a place I love to go to, so it worked out perfect.”

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