The Spokane Chiefs made 10 selections in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, including defenseman Evan Fiala (FEE-all-uh) with their first round pick, 14th overall. The 6'2", 171 pound rearguard scored five goals and 32 points in 23 games last season with the Valley Vipers of the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League (SBAA). He also added 87 penalty minutes.
"Evan is a big body and a good skater that plays with skill," Chiefs Director of Player Personnel Chris Moulton said. "He makes plays, is a heady guy and a well rounded kid."
Fiala's selection is the third time in four years that Spokane has picked a defenseman in the first round. In total, the Chiefs selected five forwards, four defenseman and one goaltender.
"I think we drafted with balance," Moulton said.
"We picked a good combination of size and skill. The smaller players that we selected are all competitors. They all battle and have good leadership skills. I think we picked kids who are a good fit with our program. In the end, I'm happy with how the draft went."
Overall, the Chiefs selected five players 6'0" or taller, "It wasn't our focus but having size and skill won't hurt us," Moulton said.
The Chiefs picked Curtis Miske, a 6'1" center from Beaumont, Alberta, in the second round, 36th overall. Miske led the Camrose Vikings of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League in scoring last season with 19 goals and 45 points in 33 games.
Goaltender Tyson Verhelst was Spokane's third round pick. The 5'10", 176 pound Verhelst went 15-4 in 23 appearances last season with Bantam AA Brandon Wheat Kings. Verhelst is the Chiefs highest selection for a goaltender since Darcy Kuemper was taken with Spokane's third round pick in 2005.
Defenseman Jordan Henderson from Surrey, B.C. was taken with the first of two fourth round selections. Henderson was a forward who transitioned to defense in the middle of the season and appeared in 20 games, scoring four goals and 13 points, for Cloverdale of the Pacific Coast Bantam Hockey League.
Teammates from British Columbia's Pursuit of Excellence (POE) Bantam team, center Jordan Kawaguchi and defenseman Tyson Helgesen, were selected with the next two picks. Kawaguchi, a 5'6" center from Abbotsford, B.C., was taken with the Chiefs second fourth round pick, 80th overall. He scored 57 goals and 131 points in 43 games last year and was recently named the Tournament MVP at the Kamloops International Ice Hockey Tournament (KIBIHT) after helping POE win the title as he scored eight goals and 13 points in six games. Helgesen was picked in the fifth round, 102nd overall. He appeared in 44 games and tallied 28 points, including 25 assists, for POE.
In the seventh round the Chiefs took Marcus Vela, a 6'1" center from the Burnaby Bantam team of the PCBHL. Vela was named to the KIBIHT second all-star team after leading Burnaby in scoring with five goals and seven points in five games.
6'3" left wing Ben Hanley from Kelowna, BC was the first of three eighth round picks, 159th overall. Defenseman Nick Lenius from Weyburn, SK was taken with the very next choice while right wing Darien Craighead from Surrey, B.C. was selected with the 168th overall pick.
Lenius scored seven goals and 20 points in 24 games with the Weyburn Energy of the SBAA. Craighead scored 42 times and added 51 assists in 46 game last season with Semiahmoo of the PCBHL.
Evan Fiala - D
Round - 1 Pick - 14
Ht - 6'2" Wt - 171
DOB - 6/7/97 Hometown - Clavet, SK
2011-12 - Valley Vipers (SBAA)
He is a very good skater and moves smoothly for a big guy. Is a heads up player that makes plays and a good first pass out of the defensive zone. Can at times play very physical. Closes his man out well and finishes his checks. Doesn't panic under pressure. Has his head on a swivel in his zone - reads the play well. Jumps into the play - good offensive instincts. Stands up at the blueline forcing the play - confidence in his mobility. Plays well away from the puck. Aggressive on the puck.
Curtis Miske - C
Round - 2 Pick - 36
Ht - 6'1" Wt - 165
DOB - 1/17/97 Hometown - Beaumont, AB
2011-12 - Camrose (AMBHL)
Curtis is a taller, lanky player with very good skill. He is a good skater and can accelerate quickly. Curtis is strong on the puck with a power forward's frame and skill. Lots of upside with Curtis. He is willing to go into the corners and in front of the net and creates scoring opportunities for his teammates. A scoring threat when ever he is on the ice. Protects the puck well. Good Hands. Good Shot. Has a nose for the net.
Tyson Verhelst - G
Round - 3 Pick - 58
Ht - 5'10" Wt - 176
DOB - 6/8/97 Hometown - Brandon, MB
2011-12 - Brandon (Bantam AA)
Tyson is a big goalie who will challenge the shooter and control his rebounds well. He plays at the top of his crease and angles well. Overall, he has good positioning in net. Tyson will recover quickly when he goes down. He sees the puck well through traffic and takes up a lot of the net.
Jordan Henderson - D
Round - 4 Pick - 72
Ht - 5'10" Wt - 140
DOB - 3/26/97 Hometown - Surrey, BC
2011-12 - Cloverdale (PCBHL)
Jordan was a forward that made a nice transition into defense. He is a competitive kid. Jordan is a smart player who sees the ice real well. This season he was one of the most improved players in the draft.
Jordan Kawaguchi - C
Round - 4 Pick - 80
Ht - 5'6" Wt - 145
DOB - 6/7/97 Hometown - Abbotsford, BC
2011-12 - POE Bantam
Jordan is an effortless skater who will go to all the tough areas of the ice and battle for the puck. He is the type of player who will make everyone around him better. Jordan is an intelligent player and his vision and vision set him apart.
Tyson Helgesen - D
Round - 5 Pick - 102
Ht - 6'0" Pick - 147
DOB - 6/19/97 Hometown - Fairview, AB
2011-12 - POE Bantam
Tyson is a responsible stay-at-home defenseman who is very responsible with the puck. He covers his areas well and will win a majority of his battles. Intelligent and won't panic with the puck.
Marcus Vela - LW
Round - 7 Pick - 146
Ht - 6'1" Pick - 170
DOB - 3/3/97 Hometown - Vancouver, BC
2011-12 - Burnaby Bantam
Marcus has a big frame, skates well and, when he is involved, is an effective player. He has a big powerful skating stride with a good first step. Marcus has good puck skills and shows a good hockey sense.
Ben Hanley - LW
Round - 8 Pick - 159
Ht - 6'3" Pick - 180
DOB - 4/11/97 Hometown - Kelowna, BC
2011-12 - Kelowna T1
Ben is a very big player who has a good amount of upside. His skating stride is good and he competes hard. He's not afraid to have the puck or go into the corners and go get it. His size can create scoring opportunities for his teammates.
Nick Lenius - D
Round - 8 Pick - 160
Ht - 5'6" Pick - 160
DOB - 2/17/97 Hometown - Weyburn, SK
2011-12 - Weyburn (SBAA)
Nick is a skilled, smaller defenseman who is an explosive skater with good vision. He has good puck skills and likes to bring it up the ice. Nick gets involved offensively and is tough to play against.
Darien Craighead - RW
Round - 8 Pick - 168
Ht - 5'9" Pick - 140
DOB - 3/7/97 Hometown - Surrey, B.C.
2011-12 - Semiahmoo A1
Will generate offense and is very skilled with the puck. Good work ethic and with time and space he will make plays. He battles hard to get the puck and moves it well.