Winnipeg Ice select B.C. forward Zach Benson as 1st round WHL Bantam Draft pick

Yale Academy Forward Zach Benson who was Winnipeg's first round pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft. Photo provided by the CSSHL. Photo provided by the CSSHL

For the fifth time in the last five years, the Winnipeg Ice (previously the Kootenay Ice) have selected a forward in the first round of the Western Hockey League‘s Bantam Draft.

Joining the likes of Peyton Krebs (2017), Connor McClennon (2018) and Matthew Savoie and Conor Geekie (2019) is Zachary Benson of the Yale Academy Bantam Prep Lions of Abbotsford, B.C. The Ice chose the 14-year-old from Chilliwack with the fourteenth overall pick in today’s draft, which was conducted online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Benson is a 5-foot-5, 126 pound left winger who scored 30 goals and added 56 assists for 86 points in just 30 games to earn MVP honours. He led the Lions to a 25-3-2 record and a second-place finish in the 15 team Canadian Sports School Bantam Hockey League.

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“Zach is a highly intelligent skilled forward that makes everyone around him better,” said Winnipeg Assistant General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations Jake Heisinger following the pick.

“We feel Zach will fit in very well with our existing group of talented forwards.”

Benson has made four trips to Winnipeg over the last half dozen or so years, so he’s somewhat familiar with what will be his future home. And he couldn’t be happier about that.

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“Since I was a little kid, I dreamed of playing in the league,” Benson told CJOB Sports Show host Christian Aumell just a few hours after his name was called.

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“To get drafted into the WHL– but better yet, the Winnipeg Ice — that’s exciting.”

After playing with Yale Academy, just 30 minutes away from his hometown in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, Benson has already set his sights on  moving a lot farther away from his parents in about 16 months from now. “I wanna play as a 16-year-old with the Ice. That’s where I wanna start.”

The Ice made a total of 13 picks. They didn’t have a second round selection, but they used the 58th pick to select forward Aiden Oiring of Calgary.

Three of their thirteen picks hail from Manitoba. The Ice added defenceman Omen Harmacy of Winnipeg in the eighth round. He played in Minnesota for Shattuck-St. Mary’s last season. They also selected Elkhorn’s Foxx McColl in the 10th round, and Portage’s Ty Hogue in round 11.

Winnipeg Ice Selections

Pick    Position     Name       Previous Team        Hometown

14. LW Zach Benson – Yale H.A. Bantam Prep (Chilliwack, B.C.)

58. C Aiden Oiring – Calgary Royals (Calgary, AB)

80. D Ashton Cumby – Lloydminster Bobcats (Bonnyville, AB)

94. RW Ty Fraser – Lethbridge Golden Hawks (Raymond, AB)

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146. D Isaiah Arnold – Saskatoon Bandits (Saskatoon, SK)

155. G Brock Lott – Red Deer Rebels AAA (Red Deer, AB)

159. D Josh Karman – Calgary CNHA Northstar Sabres (Calgary, AB)

168. D Omen Harmacy – Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabres (Winnipeg)

190. C Connor Dale – Edmonton Bantam Prep (St. Albert, AB)

212. D Foxx McColl – Yellowhead Chiefs (Elkorn)

234. G Ty Hogue – Central Plains Capitals (Portage La Prairie)

256. D Jack Ketsa – St. Albert Sabres (St. Albert)

278. LW Jaxon Sperling – Yorkton Terriers Bantam (Yorkton, SK)

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