John MacNeil/Independent editor
Dylan Houston doesn’t get much mail at the best of times, so when an envelope addressed to him came to his Stettler home in June, he was anxious to open it.
Inside was an invitation to attend this week’s rookie camp with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League.
“When I saw something with ‘Dylan Houston’ on it, I was quite happy,” Houston said Sunday at the East Central Hockey School in Stettler.
“I got a couple of more (letters) after that, but I chose Seattle because I thought they were a good organization to play with. The scout kept calling, so I said, ‘Yeah sure, I’ll come down and play a couple of scrimmages for you guys.’ They were the first team to send me an invitation, so I thought it was quite neat getting it.”
The 15-year-old right-winger wasn’t selected in the WHL bantam draft in May, but his solid season with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels Black team last winter generated interest from major junior teams in June and July.
“I thought I might have got into the later rounds (of the draft),” he said. “I had a good year in Red Deer. But you never know.”
Before he committed to Seattle, the five foot- 11, 160-pound Houston also gave extra consideration to an invite from the Moose Jaw Warriors, because Logan Hermus of Big Valley is one of their prospects.
Houston also received letters from the Edmonton Oil Kings, Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets.
He scored 14 goals and 30 points in 33 games last season in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League.
“I think I’m a playmaker,” he said. “I like to set my teammates up. I’m not much for scoring. I just like the assists, passing it and watching them celebrate their goals.”
Primed for midget hockey this season in Red Deer, his immediate goal is to soak up his first taste of WHL life.
“I think it will make me more mature, show me what I have to do to get to the next level, and see what skill level they’re at,” he said.
Houston left home Tuesday and camp begins today.
Within a couple of weeks, he’s bound for midget AAA tryouts with the Red Deer Optimist Rebels.
“Hopefully, I’ll make that team,” he said of the Alberta Midget Hockey League champions.
“They went to (the Pacific region final) last year, so it’s a good organization.”