After a season mired in losing, the Calgary Hitmen finally have a big win.
The Hitmen won the right to pick first overall in the WHL Bantam Draft lottery Wednesday morning when the Kamloops Blazers’ ball was drawn.
It’s a lone bright spot in a year when the Hitmen went from WHL champions to the league’s basement in less than 12 months.
“We earned it,” said Hitmen GM Kelly Kisio, whose team has the top selection for the first time since 1995.
“I would have been mighty disappointing if we didn’t get the first pick, so I’m glad that didn’t happen.”
Being that the Blazers could only move up two spots, the last-place Hitmen retained the position of picking first as Kamloops moves from sixth spot to fourth.
The Swift Current Broncos select second and the Lethbridge Hurricanes (picked acquired from Regina) will have the third pick.
The Hitmen will have the first pick in each subsequent round of the draft of 1996-born players, which will be held May 5 at the BMO Centre at Stampede Park.
At this point, Kisio is undecided on what direction he wants to go, but he has time to make up his mind.
“We’ve had our guys out extensively for the past few months so we know what’s out there,” said Kisio, who admits his team has several needs.
“I tend to go for the best guy available because you just never know. Luck plays a part in it but you really have to do your homework.”
Also on Wednesday, the WHL announced its all-stars and award nominees for the Western Conference and Calgary product James Reid of the Spokane Chiefs was named top goalie and was a first-team all-star.
The Eastern Conference nominees are expected to be announced Thursday and the league awards will be handed out at a luncheon in Calgary May 4.