The Regina Pats have signed highly-touted Alaskan-born forward Braxton Whitehead to a WHL Standard Player Agreement.
“We are excited that Braxton has chosen the Pats and the WHL,” said John Paddock, Pats VP of Hockey Operations and General Manager. “He is a skilled player who will be a big part of our organization in the future.”
A 16-year-old product of Palmer, Alaska, Whitehead was selected by the Pats in the third round (66th overall) of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. With his WHL SPA signed, he is eligible to join the Pats on a full-time basis for the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season. While Whitehead will push for a roster spot as a 16-year-old, he is also committed to play at the Notre Dame Hockey Academy in Wilcox, Sask. this coming season.
“I am proud to skate for the city of Regina and officially join the Pats family,” Whitehead said. “It is an honor to play the sport I love for such a historic franchise, and I can’t wait to get started. After attending rookie camp last year, I knew in my heart that I wanted to ‘Join the Regiment.’ I was impressed by the coaching staff, facilities and most of all, the fans who came to watch. Without the love and support of my family, coaches, and teammates—both in Alaska and Pittsburgh—I would not be here today. Thank you to Mr. Paddock, Mr. McMullin, and the Pats organization for believing in me.”
The 2019-20 season saw the 5-foot-10, 139-pound Whitehead suit up for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 15U Midget team, where he registered 43 points (20G-23A) in 56 contests.
After being selected in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, Whitehead travelled to Regina for Pats spring camp, all the way from his hometown of Palmer, Alaska – a distance of over 3,800 kilometres.
For those of you unfamiliar with Palmer, Alaska, it’s a city with a population of 5,937 located 68 km northeast of Anchorage. Palmer is also the home of two-time Olympic bronze-medal winning trap-shooting athlete Corey Cogdell, who claimed bronze on behalf of the United States at the 2008 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Whitehead joins a solid group of Pats prospects to come out of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. Leading the crew is first-round pick Layton Feist (17th overall), a defenceman hailing from Coldstream, B.C., and second-round pick Samuel Huck (41st overall).
Goaltender Matthew Kieper, a third-round pick (63rd overall), was invited to Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence Goaltending Camp on Monday afternoon – identified as one of the top-12 under-17 netminders in the country.
The Pats took another swing for the fences with California product Zane Rowan, selected in the third round (61st overall) just ahead of Kieper and Whitehead. Rowan signed his WHL SPA back in May 2019.
The signing of Whitehead means the Pats have put pen to paper with five players from their 2019 WHL Bantam Draft class, including Feist, Rowan, Kieper, and ninth-round selection Jacob Dewitt (186th overall), a left defenceman from Sicamous, B.C.
It has been a highly successful offseason for the Pats, starting with the first-overall selection of exceptional status player Connor Bedard in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft. Bedard, of course, is eligible to play full-time in the WHL as a 15-year-old player, having been granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada earlier this spring.