Bound for big league

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

The second round of yesterday's NHL Entry Draft proved to be a good one for a trio of young Calgary area hockey players.

Mason Raymond of Cochrane, his good buddy Dan Bertram, and T.J. Fast were all second-round picks by NHL teams looking for fresh talent in Ottawa.

Raymond was selected by the Vancouver Canucks, 51st overall, Bertram went to Chicago (54th), while Fast was taken by the L.A. Kings (60th).

For Bertram, who is at his family cabin in Windermere, B.C., it was a time to celebrate with Raymond, his best friend, who also happened to be hanging out in the B.C. summer town.

"He's on his way over to my place right now and we're going to have some champagne. It's pretty neat for both of us," said Bertram, 18, a Boston College student.

Naturally, Bertram was thrilled when he found out the Blackhawks had called his name.

"It was a bit nerve-racking, though, but I'm really happy," said Bertram, who is heading to the world junior national team development camp in two weeks.

He and Raymond were teammates with the Alberta Junior Hockey League's high-powered Camrose Kodiaks two years ago and they also toiled together in the Alberta Midget Hockey League with Strathmore's UFA Bisons.

Fast, a defenceman, played in Camrose last year with Raymond and he said he couldn't believe it when the Kings chose him with their second-round pick.

"I'm pretty shocked. I've always been the guy that's just kind of there that nobody thought would really do anything," said the 17-year-old, who is set to play for the University of Denver this season.

"It's just amazing. My parents were following along and they told me about it.

"From what I was hearing, I thought for sure I'd be a mid-to-late round pick."

Raymond, who led the Kodiaks to last season's AJHL championship, is scheduled to play for the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2005-06.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames picked J.D. Watt, who lives near Cochrane, in the fourth round.

The 18-year-old was over the moon about being drafted by his hometown team.

"I'm ecstatic. I'm very happy," said Watt, a member of the WHL's Vancouver Giants. "When they were in the playoffs, I've never seen a city so excited. I was at the Red Mile a couple of times and it was the funnest time of my life just watching those guys.

"I think this is even better."


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