Prince George Cougars’ first-round draft pick Riley Heidt says the fact that he is a part of a WHL team is sinking in for real.
The 15-year-old was taken second overall in this year’s WHL Bantam Draft from the Saskatoon Contacts of the SMHL.
Career so far
Heidt notched 37 points in 44 games with the Contacts last season and watched the draft live stream from his home in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
“I was sitting on the couch, and when I heard my name announced on the computer it was pretty real. It really hit me that I’m now a part of a WHL team,” he said.
Training during a pandemic
The five-foot-eight, 165-pound winger signed his Standard Player Agreement on April 23 and has been training in his hometown of Saskatoon until training camp begins.
“With this virus going on it’s been tough, but I’ve had a chance to take everything in.”
He’s been able to lace up his skates and return to the ice, and complete off-ice workouts as well, but with COVID-19 considerations at play, he admits there has been an adjustment period.
“I’m living a basic life right now, I try and get up to the lake once in a while on weekends, but I’m training five times a week and skating as much as I can,” Heidt explains.
“Workouts are pretty similar in the gym. You just have to try and keep away from guys so you don’t interact with them too much. It’s pretty different at the rink though, you have to get dressed at home. It was weird, but I’m used to it now.”
The big move
The young prospect says his family is ecstatic; he even has some relatives in Prince George to help him make the transition when the time comes.
“I’ll decide on it more when I get to camp, but I think I might be staying here in Saskatoon for the next year and try to play up with them.”
As far as his style of play goes, it’s no surprise that the forward looks up to none other than Sidney Crosby.
“I try to play like him to the best of my ability, but I obviously don’t play like him,” laughed Heidt.
He also keeps an eye on former Saskatoon Blade Kirby Dach, who is now with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
The 15-year-old is confident his skill can translate to the next level starting in August because, for him, hockey has been a ‘lifelong love affair.’
Despite his young age, he feels ready to suit up for the Cougars for as many games as possible. Normally five games before his team’s season is over but there have been exceptions to the rule in the past.
“I don’t have to work to get out of bed, and I’ve been skating three times a week in the morning ever since I was a kid!” Heidt laughed.
Training camps are tentatively scheduled to open up later this summer.
Congratulations Riley Heidt from the @saskcontacts for being selected 2nd overall in the 2020 WHL Bantam draft by the Prince George Cougars. Unbelieveable accomplishment. #Contacts #WHL #WHLBantamDraft pic.twitter.com/zZmGdfdtoC
— Saskatoon Contacts (@saskcontacts) April 22, 2020