Three Nanaimo hockey players are closer to the major junior level if that’s the route they choose.
The WHL Draft was Wednesday, April 22, and three Nanaimo players – as well as another player who plays for a Nanaimo team – were selected.
Matthew Wood was the local who was chosen highest, taken in the second round, 41st overall, by the Regina Pats. The 6-foot-1, 157-pound centreman played this past season for the West Van Warriors bantam rep program, where he scored 40 goals and 71 points in 30 games.
Pats director of scouting Dale McMullin, in a video posted on the team’s website, said Wood makes plays and gets to open areas on the ice at the right time and said it’s expected he’ll be a good complement to first overall pick and projected star Connor Bedard, also from the West Van Warriors program.
McMullin said Wood “has got a good set of hands [and] thinks the game,” but still needs to “get his feet under him.”
Other Nanaimo players selected in the WHL draft were Joey Rocha, taken 109th overall by the Swift Current Broncos, and Randy McLaughlin, taken 164th by the Vancouver Giants.
Rocha is a 6-foot-1, 157-pound goalie who played last season with the North Island Silvertips, while McLaughlin is a 5-foot-10, 185-pound right winger who played with the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy.
Also chosen yesterday was Silvertips player Caden Tremblay, who went 163rd overall to the Medicine Hat Tigers. Tremblay is a 5-foot-9, 140-pound defenceman from Port Alberni.