The 2020 Western Hockey League’s Bantam Draft saw the Victoria Royals select defenceman Austin Zemlak as the team’s first pick (ninth overall).
“Austin is a strong, versatile defenceman who plays the game with skill and purpose. He is a mobile skater who thinks and plays the game at a high pace,” said Royals president and general manager Cameron Hope in a statement. “He has a bright future in the WHL, and we are excited to welcome Austin and his family to the Royals.”
A product of Fort McMurray, Zemlak spent the 2019-2020 season with the OHA Edmonton Bantam Prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. As the team’s captain, he played in 27 games, earning 36 points (eight goals and 28 assists) along with 22 penalty minutes. He led the team in assists and was second in scoring.
Coming in at five-foot-11 and 160 pounds, Zemlak was a finalist for that league’s bantam prep division top defenceman of the year award.
The WHL Bantam Draft is an annual event where teams in the league select players who have graduated from bantam. Eligible in this year’s draft were players from Western Canada and the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming who were born in 2005.