It was one of the easiest decisions Prince George Cougars general manager Dallas Thompson ever had to make.
Thompson knew the player he wanted was going to be available. It was just a matter of walking up to the podium and making his choice.
"He's been our guy all year," said Thompson, who selected 15-year-old Macdonald Lightning right-winger Dale Hunt from Sanford third overall in the Western Hockey League bantam draft yesterday at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary. "We needed to pick him."
The Regina Pats picked 6-foot-4, 180-pound defenceman Colten Teubert from White Rock, B.C., with the first pick while the Swift Current Broncos selected left winger Geordie Wudrick from Abbotsford, B.C., with the second pick. That left the Cougars with the guy they wanted.
"We knew (Wednesday) that he was going to be available," said Thompson. "That made our decision very easy to make."
Hunt was one of six Manitobans taken in the first round -- the highest number since six went in the 2001 bantam draft led by centre Joe Barnes (second overall by Saskatoon) and defenceman Cam Barker (fourth overall by Medicine Hat).
"It wasn't too much of a surprise because I knew a couple of days ago that I would be one of the top five," said Hunt, speaking from his home as friends and family celebrated in the background.
"I'm very excited to be the No. 3 pick," added Hunt, who scored 75 goals and 89 assists last season in leading the Lightning to the silver medal at the Provincial Bantam Final Four. "They've given me an opportunity to further my hockey goals."
Hunt is expected to play for Pembina Valley in the Manitoba AAA Midget League next season. But Thompson figures it won't be long before he's suiting up in Prince George.
Six-foot-three, 180-pound centre Neal Prokop of the Winnipeg Sharks Bantam AAA team was taken fifth by the Moose Jaw Warriors while 6-foot-4, 190-pound Sharks defenceman Eric Mestery was chosen seventh by the Tri-City Americans.
Also taken in the first round was Winnipeg centre Brendon Rowinski (13th overall by the Calgary Hitmen), defenceman Travis Bobbee from Arborg (15th by the Lethbridge Hurricanes) and Brandon centre Sanfred King (17th by the Brandon Wheat Kings).
King is the first Manitoban selected by Brandon in the first round since Winnipegger Codey Burki went 17th overall in 2002.
"(Prokop) skates tremendously well for a big kid and he's got really good hands," said Moose Jaw general manager Chad Lang. "We feel really fortunate to have a kid with both of those attributes."
Meanwhile, the Americans feel they beefed up their blue-line with the addition of Mestery and fellow Sharks rearguard Tyler Schmidt, who was chosen in the second round, 27th overall.
"We do see both of them being able to play (with us) as 16-year-olds," said Tri-City GM Bob Tory.
In all, 30 Manitobans were drafted, five going to Brandon.
"We got some big, strong kids who can help us down the road if they keep developing," said Wheat Kings director of player personnel Al Macpherson.