Quinn Mantei was thrilled when he was drafted 13th overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings at the WHL Bantam Draft.
Shortly after he was drafted, the Weyburn native signed his first WHL Standard Player Agreement with the organization, one with a rich history.
Darren Ritchie and the rest of the Wheat Kings staff would have to wait a bit before they selected again. And when they did, the Wheat Kings remained in Saskatchewan. With the 35th overall selection, Brandon drafted Trae Johnson of Martensville. Trae is coming off an all-star season with the Martensville Bantam AA Marauders and we’ll have more on that in just a second.
“I was so honoured, it’s such a surreal feeling that I was drafted,” said Johnson. “It means so much to me and to be drafted by such a great organization, it means the world to me.”
The fact that Johnson lasted until the 35th pick was a surprise to many. In just 31 games this past season, the avid golfer scored 36 times and he added 31 assists for a 67 point total — the most on the team — and the 13th most in the entire Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League.
Trae added another goal and three assists in three playoff games. Prior to their loss in the league semi-final, the team hadn’t lost a game since Christmas, a roll that Johnson sure loved being on.
“That was super cool. We had a great group of guys and everyone came together and worked extremely hard,” added Johnson.
His 67 points are 41 more than the 2018-2019 season. He scored 11 goals and added 15 assists in the regular season. Johnson did; however, heat up in the playoffs. He had seven points in nine games as the Marauders won the league championship.
As Trae now prepares for the upcoming season which will be his first at the U18 level, he mentions this past season was a big one for him.
“I was really happy with how the season went. I was just going hard to the net and working hard in all three zones,” continued Johnson. “My teammates were also great, I wouldn’t have done what I did without them, they helped me a ton.”
Being a short drive away from Saskatoon, Trae grew up watching the Blades. But, there was also another reason why he enjoyed the WHL club from the Bridge City.
His cousin Darian Dziurzynski played 267 games with the Blades. Ironically enough; however, Darian didn’t finish his junior days with the Blades.
He was traded to the Brandon Wheat Kings where he went on to play 70 games in the 2011-2012 season. Now 29 years old, Darian has played in the American Hockey League, in England, Slovakia, and most recently, he’s been suiting up for the Kansas City Mavericks of the ECHL.
“I’ve always wanted to play in the WHL and I want to be just like Darian. He had a really good junior career and he’s still going strong professionally,” continued Johnson. “It’s also pretty neat that he played with the team that drafted me.”
Pen to paper:
Just more than two weeks after he was drafted on April 22, with his family right by his side, Johnson signed on the dotted line. On May 9, Johnson signed his first WHL Standard Player Agreement with the Wheat Kings joining Mantei who did it earlier in the week.
“It’s such a great feeling to have signed with Brandon. I’m really excited to be a part of the organization,” said Johnson. “It’s a wonderful organization filled with wonderful people, I really am thrilled.”
It’s one that will see him move to play the game he loves and excels at. Trae will move to Prince Albert to join the Mintos of the Saskatchewan U18 AAA Hockey League. The Mintos are known as league contenders every single season.
Johnson’s goal is to make the Wheat Kings in two seasons. He knows he still has a lot of work to achieve that goal, but he’s certainly ready to give it his all, and the road will now continue in the same city as the Prince Albert Raiders, who won the Ed Chynoweth Cup two seasons ago.
“I’m pretty excited to move up to the next level here in the fall,” he concluded. “I know it’s not going to be easy, but I always work really hard. I know the Wheat Kings will be watching and I want to show them that I have what it takes.”
When it comes to his golf career, Johnson plays at the Legends Golf Club — a mere 10 minutes away from his home — and he plays to a 13 handicap. So not only can he handle himself out on the ice, but he’s certainly not too shabby of a golfer, either.