Blades acquire Harsch from Thunderbirds for Ashton, draft pick

Brian Liesse/Steve Hiscock


The Seattle Thunderbirds executed their third trade in the past two days Wednesday, making a deal with the Saskatoon Blades.

Heading to the Blades is 19-year-old defenceman Reece Harsch while the Thunderbirds acquired 17-year-old defenceman Zach Ashton and a fifth-round selection in the 2022 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.

“We’re excited to add Zach to our roster,” said Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge. “He was a point-a-game defenceman in midget last year and is another player we are adding who has an offensive pedigree.”

“Both Zach and Reece will get a fresh start with new teams. Reece had a good T-Birds career and we wish him the best of luck with the Blades.”

For a team with aspirations of competing now, the Blades are adding a veteran body in Harsch, who has posted 10 points (2G-8A), including a pair of power-play goals in 28 games this season.

The Grande Prairie, Alta. product was originally selected in the eighth round, 170th overall, of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft by the Thunderbirds. Since then, he’s appeared in 149 WHL regular season games with the Thunderbirds, recording 47 points (15G-32A), including eight power-play goals.

“Reece is an experienced player we’ve had our eye on for a while,” stated Blades General Manager Colin Priestner. “He plays a hard game, has 25 games of playoff experience, and knows what it takes to win a championship in this league.

“We feel Reece makes us a better team today and his leadership and experience will help our younger players continue to develop.”

Harsch was a member of the Thunderbirds team that won the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2017 as WHL Champions. Overall, the 6-foot-3, 198-pound defenceman has appeared in 25 WHL playoff games, posting a single assist. He’s also played in the Memorial Cup and the Alberta Cup.

Headed to the Thunderbirds in the deal is the 17-year-old Ashton, a product of Calgary, Alta.

The 5-foot-11, 172-pound defenceman was originally selected in the third round, 50th overall, of the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft by the Blades. Ashton has appeared in 11 WHL regular season games, posting a single assist. A product of the Calgary Midget AAA Buffaloes program, Ashton recorded 31 points (5G-26A) while playing in 35 games last season in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League.

Ashton has previously won the Alberta Cup and the 2016 WHL Cup as a member of Team Alberta.

The Blades are in action next on Friday, January 4 (7:00 p.m. CT) as they head south to take on the Regina Pats. The Thunderbirds are in action Friday, January 4 (7:30 p.m. CT)

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