Virden’s Dexter Whittle might be believing everything his friend Grady Lane says for a while.
The son of Alana George Whittle and Clifford Whittle was tracking the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft online all morning on May 2. Around midday the standout defenceman’s name had not yet appeared on the screen.
“At lunch I was with some of my buddies and we were talking about the draft,” Whittle said. “Grady Lane (2018 pick of the Spokane Chiefs) said ‘watch, your name will pop up next’ and, a couple seconds after, it did. Then my phone started going off like crazy.”
The Everett (Wash.) Silvertips chose Whittle 152nd overall with their seventh-round pick.
“I am very happy about being drafted to the Everett Silvertips and eager for training camp,” said Whittle, 14. “I've heard a lot of great things about Everett and the organization. Every bantam player wants to see their name come across the screen. I was also very happy to see many of my good friends go in the draft. It was a very exciting day!”
A Yellowhead Chiefs bantam AAA player, Whittle had two teammates selected. A trio of players were picked from the region’s other bantam AAA squad, the Southwest Cougars. The Silvertips were pleased to draft Whittle.
“Any report I got from one of our scouts or people I knew there was that this guy will do anything for any of his teammates,” Everett head scout Mike Fraser told the DUBNetwork website. “He’s got a very high character. He skates well, moves pucks and is not afraid to go back and get pucks to get them out of the zone. He will go through the boards for anyone.”
After being drafted, Whittle took to Twitter to thank his coaches, friends, family, and teammates who helped him get to this point.
In an interview, Whittle said, “I have been lucky to have had many good hockey coaches from Virden Minor Hockey, extended, summer and in Yellowhead.”
Of his family, he stated:
“My parents and sister Brooklyn have always been very supportive of me. They drive me everywhere to camps, practices and games. They have always encouraged me to play hard and be a good teammate on and off the ice.”
While with the Chiefs this past season the 5-foot-6, 163-pounder had 12 goals and 30 points in 34 games. He has been selected for the Team Manitoba U16 Program of Excellence Top-40 camp this month.
“Dexter is a great kid that comes from a great family first and foremost,” said Yellowhead head coach Craig Geekie. “What sticks out in my mind is how hard he works and competes day in and day out. Whether practice or games he is one of my hardest working players on and off the ice. Also, his willingness to learn the game and be open to coaching. He will have a bright future.”
The two local bantam AAA squads had six players – three each – chosen. The Southwest Cougars saw Boissevain’s Zach Turner (Rd 2, 31st overall, Brandon Wheat Kings), Owen Harris of Wawanesa (Rd 3, 53rd, Brandon), and Carberry’s Luke Robson (Rd 9, 178th, Moose Jaw Warriors) picked. In addition to Whittle, the Chiefs had Conor Geekie of Strathclair (Rd 1, 2nd, Winnipeg Ice) and Carberry’s Benjamin Saunderson (Rd 5, 89th, Saskatoon Blades) drafted. When asked about the Chiefs being selected, Craig Geekie said:
“All had a great season and are really good kids that carry themselves well on and off the ice and they were always the hardest working players on and off the ice.”