Victoria WHL team looking for billets, select first ever draft picks

Victoria’s soon-to-be-named Western Hockey League franchise is looking for billet families to house players for the 2011-12 season.

Applications are available at www.victoriawhl.ca or households in the Capital Region who wish to billet a WHL player. Players are aged 16 to 20 and stay from August to March – and beyond, should the team enjoy a playoff run.

Host families are compensated on a monthly basis and receive other benefits.

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Expect the first-ever draft pick of the Victoria WHL team, Joe Hicketts, to get all the chances he’ll need to make the WHL in the coming years.

Hicketts was the Victoria team’s first-ever draft pick, taken 12th overall in the first round of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft on May 5, one day after his 15th birthday.

This year’s draft was for players born in 1996.

The 5-foot-6, 169-pound defenceman from Kamloops was captain of the Kamloops Jardine Blazers this year. He helped his team win the bantam AAA Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association regular season, playoff championship and B.C. championship.

Victoria’s second round draft selection (No. 34) was traded to the Portland Winter Hawks for their third, fourth and eighth round choices in next year’s draft.

Chosen at 55th and 56th overall were Michael Bell (Kitimat) and Ryan Gagnon (Quesnel), respectively.

Victoria was unique in selecting the second American of the 2011 draft, Chris Wilkie, a 5-foot-9, 155 pound forward from Omaha, Neb.

Also taken were Brayden Park (Lumsden, Sask.) at 100th, Zachary Riauka (Southgate, Alta.) at 122nd, Brendan Benson (Lethbridge, Alta.) at 144th, Austin Larochelle (Swift Current, Sask.) at 176th, Michael Herringer (Comox Valley) at 188th and Cole Jones (Oakbank, Man.) at 210th.

Victoria passed on its final three picks of the draft at 232nd, 298th and 320th.