A strong first season of Midget AAA hockey has paid off.
Sherwood Park Kings defenceman Blake Gustafson recently signed his first Western Hockey League deal with the Red Deer Rebels.
"I was down there skating and (Brent) Sutter called me off the ice early and had a little talk with me," Gustafson said about signing. "It was really exciting. It has been a goal and it's really nice to know with the work I've been putting in."
The 16-year-old suited up in 38 regular season and playoff games this winter, notching four goals and an assist.
"I think the biggest thing for me going into camp in August is to make sure I have a presence — that I'm assertive and play a big game," Gustafson added. "People always say Sherwood Park is good for growing defenceman and pushing them up to the next leagues, so it's nice to have a benchmark."
Sherwood Park has been a defenceman hot spot for the WHL, with talent such as Matthew Robertson, Kaiden Guhle, Dylan Plouffe, Jake Lee, Logan Dowhaniuk, Joel Lakusta and Jacob Herauf playing in the league this season.
Back in 2017, Gustafson was a 10th round pick by Red Deer in the Bantam Draft.