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Tsawwassen blueliner among top picks in WHL Prospects Draft

Will Sharpe selected by the same team that took former NHL star Brent Seabrook in the first round 22 years ago
Will Sharpe
Tsawwassen's Will Sharpe was selected 11th overall by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in last week's Western Hockey League Prospects Draft. The 15-year-old had an outstanding season captaining Yale Academy's top U15 Prep team.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes are hoping history repeats itself and Will Sharpe certainly wouldn’t mind that either.

The 15-year-old blueliner from Tsawwassen was selected 11th overall by the Hurricanes in last Thursday’s Western Hockey League Prospects Draft.

Sharpe is coming off an outstanding season, captaining Yale Academy’s top U15 Prep team.

“We are really excited to have Will on the Lethbridge Hurricanes,” said head scout Rob MacLachlan. “We had him in the top three defenceman all year and we didn’t stray from that at all. To pick him at No. 11, we are pretty ecstatic with that. He is a two-way defenceman. He can rush the puck. He can go end-to-end. He can score goals. He is quick to get back on defence too.”

It was exactly 22 years ago when the Hurricanes took another highly touted d-man from Tsawwassen, sixth overall in the draft. Brent Seabrook not only enjoyed four productive years in Lethbridge, but starred in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, winning three Stanley Cups.

“It’s something I really never thought about until my dad mentioned it,” said Sharpe. “Yeah, for sure I knew he played here.”

Sharpe’s journey to becoming a top prospect is significantly different to Seabrook thanks to today’s player development structure.

Sharpe came through South Delta Minor then aged up to skip his final year at the U13 (Pee Wee) level to join the Greater Vancouver Canadians Major Bantam team. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder then moved onto Yale where he cracked the Abbotsford-based academy’s top team, although he played just a handful of games due to the pandemic and was also recovering from a foot injury.

“It was a hard time for me,” Sharpe reflected. “I had to do lots of rehab to build back my strength and stuff. I battled through all the adversity by just training my heart out.”

A full season awaited in the 2021/22 campaign and a now fully-healthy Sharpe thrived, compiling 42 points, including 19 goals, to rank fourth among all d-men scoring in the academy league. There were plenty of individual honours too, including being named Top Defenceman at the prestigious John Reid U15 AAA Memorial Tournament in St. Albert back in January.

WHL scouts took notice and it was just a matter of where Sharpe would be selected in the opening round. He thought he would be headed to Spokane at eighth overall until a draft day trade shook up the order. The next team he was in agreement to play for were the Hurricanes.

“I know lots of NHL players who have played there and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve just heard a lot of great things about the organization including from (2019 Buffalo first round pick) Dylan Cozens’ dad.”

He has been commuting daily from his Beach Grove home to Abbotsford with help from a car pool arrangement too. It’s a commitment that certainly is paying off with the plan to play for the academy’s U18 Prep team next season. He got a taste of the older level in three playoff call-up appearances this spring.

“I had just heard lots of good things about the schooling and stuff and when I went for a tour it seemed very well structured,” added Sharpe, who also excelled in lacrosse before solely focusing on his hockey career. “My head coach and defensive coach have really helped me out a lot.”

Sharpe’s head coach in Yale happened to be Brad Bowen who also coached Seabrook when he played for the Delta Ice Hawks as a 15-year-old back in 2000.

The hockey world can be small. Maybe small enough for Lethbridge to land another franchise defenceman from Tsawwassen.

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