The Portland Winterhawks have announced that 15-year-old prospects Gabe Klassen (’03), Lochlan Gordon (’03), and Tyson Kozak (’02) have been reassigned to their major midget teams.
Kozak, who recently signed with the Winterhawks, played three games in Everett over Labor Day weekend.
“The first couple of shifts in the first game I was a little nervous,” Kozak said. “But as the game went on I got more comfortable. It was an adjustment from midget [hockey] to playing in the WHL. I felt like I kept up pretty well and started feeling pretty good by the end of the preseason.”
Over the last three seasons, Kozak netted 49 goals and 67 assists for 116 points in 113 games. The 5-foot-10, 155-pound centerman will head back to Manitoba to play for the Southwestern Cougars Midget AAA team with the hopes of being a mainstay on the Portland roster in 2019.
“Hopefully I’ll have a really good year, come back here next year and play in Portland,” Kozak said.
The Winterhawks first round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam draft Gabe Klassen is heading back to Prince Albert for another season of midget hockey. Before Klassen can become an everyday player in Portland, he knows how important this year will be in his development.
“I think we’ll have a pretty good team so that will help me out a lot,” Klassen said on trying out for the Prince Albert Mintos. “There are a lot of young guys to play with so I think I’ll get better as the year goes on and develop and work on the things that I need to and get faster and stronger.”
Last year, he led his Saskatchewan Bantam league with 52 goals and 89 points. Klassen got his first look at the WHL when he laced up his skates twice for preseason play, registering three shots on goal.
“I thought it was awesome,” Klassen recalled from his first Winterhawks game. “Just to get the experience to play there, realize how fast it is and how much work I have to do to be an everyday player there. It’s obviously a lot faster game so I know I have to work hard and get better in all the ways I can in order to be there next year and on the team.”
Goaltender Lochlan Gordon has also been reassigned to his major midget club in Edmonton. The Winterhawks third round selection in this summer’s WHL Bantam Draft got his first taste of WHL play in a relief appearance against the Everett Silvertips, stopping 26 of the 29 shots he faced.
“It’s a lot faster. There are a lot of big bodies out there and it was a lot stronger and rougher out there,” Gordon said after his first WHL game.
Gordon backstopped four shutouts last season to go with an impressive 2.68 goals against average. Needless to say, Winterhawks fans should be seeing more of the Alberta goaltender in the near future as he continues to develop.
“It was really fun and a good experience, but I feel like I need to improve a little before I can play at this level,” Gordon said. “It’s been amazing and the coaching staff has helped out a lot.”
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