Logan Cunningham and Carter McLeod have been getting plenty of attention from major junior hockey scouts in western Canada in recent months.
They got plenty more attention this past week in Red Deer, Alta.
The Yellowknife pair were part of the Alberta Cup bantam tournament, which wrapped up in Red Deer on Sunday and while both didn’t get to play in the championship game, it was an experience they won’t forget.
Cunningham played with Team Yellow and got to play in the third-place game, a game in which they lost by a bunch to Team Green.
The result didn’t matter to him, though.
“I had a great time,” he said. “Most of the guys there all knew each other and I only knew of a few guys but it was easy to fit in.”
McLeod ended up in fifth place with Team Blue as they beat Team Grey by a score of 5-1. He had an assist in the final game and finished with two goals and two assists in his six games.
Similarly to Cunningham, McLeod said he had a blast.
“I didn’t know a lot of the guys before I got there but we bonded quickly,” he said. “We did some team-building before the tournament and it didn’t take long to become friends.”
The tournament is run by Hockey Alberta every year and is designed to help identify players for the Team Alberta program. While Cunningham and McLeod won’t be playing with Alberta anytime soon, it was a chance for them to get noticed by Western Hockey League scouts and there were plenty of them in attendance in Red Deer.
“There were some teams who were looking at me,” said Cunningham. “I talked with a couple during the week.”
To make one of the teams, both Cunningham and McLeod had to go to a training camp; Cunningham tried out at the camp in Spruce Grove, Alta., while McLeod was at camp in Blackfalds, Alta.
Cunningham actually had his choice of either playing in Alberta or in B.C. as he was eligible for both.
“I talked with an agent who deals with players my age and he suggested I give it a shot,” he said. “I could have gone to B.C. because I played with the (Yukon) Rivermen this season in AAA or Alberta because Hockey NWT has a deal with Hockey Alberta.”
After talking it over with his parents, Cunningham said he chose Alberta because it would have been a better calibre of hockey and he wasn’t disappointed.
“It’s a lot faster than what I’m used to but I felt good out there,” he said. “I felt I did well enough.”
McLeod had played bantam AAA with his team in Calgary and was used to the style and speed but he said it was a bit faster than he expected.
“It’s similar to Edge but it was quicker because there’s a lot of real good players out there,” he said. “You don’t get a lot of time to make decisions so you have to be quick.”
It all leads up to Thursday as the Western Hockey League will be holding its bantam draft, D-Day for bantam hockey players across western Canada. There is a sense around the hockey community in the North that Cunningham and McLeod could be in the mix when it comes to being selected and that’s not lost on Cunningham.
He’s holding his cards close to his chest, though.
“I’m hoping to get a phone call,” he said. “I’ve had teams looking at me at the tournaments we played in B.C. during the season so I know there’s interest but we’ll see what happens.”
McLeod is a bit more reserved about the whole thing.
“I’m curious about where I’ll go if I go but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get picked,” he said. “I’ll just continue to get better and look for the next opportunity.”