A southeast hockey product headlined the list of players selected by the Estevan Bruins during Friday’s Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Draft.
Forward Carson Birnie of Arcola was chosen in the first round, seventh overall, by the Bruins.
Birnie spent this past season with the Regina Monarchs bantam AA program, where he had 28 goals and 67 points in 29 games.
In 2018-19, he played with the Estevan TS&M bantam AA Bruins, and also played atom and peewee hockey in the Energy City.
Birnie has committed to play for the Eclipse Downhole Solutions Estevan midget AAA Bears next season.
“He’s one guy the scouts were definitely high on,” said head coach and general manager Jason Tatarnic. “We talked about him, and he’s a guy who can provide some offence, but he has some grit to him, too, and some leadership qualities.
“He’s a complete player. When you can add a guy like that, it’s exciting, and we know that Estevan’s a place where he wants to play, so it worked out well for us.”
Estevan’s next pick was defenceman Matthew Ronn from Ebenezer. Ronn had nine goals and 29 points in 30 games with the Yorkton bantam AA Terriers last season.
The Bruins dealt away their picks in the third and the fourth rounds, but they did have a selection in round 4, thanks to a previous trade with the Weyburn Red Wings.
That selection was used on Keelan Mansuy out of Regina. Mansuy had nine goals and 40 points in 31 games with Monarchs last season.
Their fifth round pick was goaltender Alex Garrett, who had a 12-5 record with a 2.29 goals against average and a .926 save percentage with the Saskatoon Generals in 2019-20.
With their final selection, Estevan nabbed forward Liam Fitzpatrick of Moose Jaw in the sixth round. He finished with 20 goals and 44 points in 30 games last season with the Moose Jaw Warriors bantam program.
Entering the draft, Tatarnic said the club wanted to add a top-end forward and a couple of defencemen.
“Building from the back-end out is always great, so we feel we added two really good defencemen there who are going to be great players down the road, and then our goalie, with Alex Garrett, our guys believed he was the best goalie who would be available for the tier 2 level,” said Tatarnic.
Tartanic said the Bruins have a really good scouting staff, which made it easier for him to step in, since he’s been on the job for less than a month.
“They were well-prepared for it, and they knew who they wanted. The top guys they wanted, they were able to secure them, with the defencemen and the goalie.
The club made a couple of trades involving prospects before the draft. First they acquired the list rights to 2003-born forward Caelan Fitzpatrick from the Battlefords North Stars for Estevan’s fourth round pick in the 2020 draft. He’s the older brother of Liam Fitzpatrick.
Caelan Fitzpatrick had 16 goals and 45 points in 44 games last season.
They also traded for forward Keagon Little, a 2003-born forward, from the Humboldt Broncos for Estevan’s third round pick in the 2021 bantam draft. He had seven goals and 20 points in 33 games with the Tisdale Trojans last season.
Both players have one year of midget eligibility remaining.
“They could possibly crack the lineup. They’re pretty good players, and we’ll give them the opportunity to do so. If they can’t, we’ll put them back in midget, and they’ll be part of our plans the following year,” said Tatarnic.