The reigning Western Conference champion Vancouver Giants made a rather significant step in shaping their roster for the upcoming 2019-20 WHL season.
The club announced at a Wednesday morning press conference that they have signed 2002-born forward Cole Shepard to a WHL Standard Player Agreement.
The five-foot-ten 152-pounder was originally drafted by the Giants 33rd overall in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft after compiling 47 points (19G, 28A) in just 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy.
The Shepard name may sound familiar to Giants fans as the team acquired his older brother, Jackson, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in a May 24 trade.
In an interview with local radio station Sportsnet 650, Shepard talked about what it’ll be like playing alongside his older brother:
“Lacing up the skates with him (Jackson), playing for the Giants is something that’s going to be super fun and we just can’t wait to get going here.”
Shepard, a West Vancouver native, had previously verbally committed to play NCAA hockey at the prestigious Harvard University in the future. This led to him playing in the BCHL as a 16-year-old with the Penticton Vees, where he put up 24 points (7G, 17A) in 53 games during the 2018-19 season.
“For me, it was more just being home, and being able to play with my brother in a comfortable situation is huge. Growing up it was always about playing pro hockey, and I trust the people here in the Giants organization,” Shepard said when asked by Sportsnet’s Bik Nazzar about deciding on the Giants over Harvard.
The skilled forward also praised the coaching staff and shared his goal for the team’s future:
“Vancouver has a great coaching staff, management, and owner that has proven they can win, and I’m just going to do whatever I can to help win a Memorial Cup.”
The Giants have now signed six of their first seven selections from the 2017 Bantam Draft (Justin Sourdif – 3rd overall, Tanner Brown – 24th overall, Cole Shepard – 33rd overall, Krz Plummer – 46th overall, Braedy Euerby – 103rd overall, and Jacob Gendron – 126th overall).
Other than his brother, Shepard will see some familiar faces around the Giants organization. He teamed up with current Giants forward Justin Sourdif at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge on Team Canada Red, where he put up four assists in six games en route to a fourth place finish.
Joined by Giants defensive prospect Tanner Brown, Shepard played alongside Sourdif once again, capturing the 2017 WHL Cup while posting three points (1G, 2A) in five games.
Shepard will wear No. 19 for the Giants.
The first chance for Giants fans to watch the newest member of the team during the regular season will be at their home opener on Friday, September 27th, when they host the Portland Winterhawks at the Langley Events Centre.