Vegas throws the dice at a pair of Park players in the NHL Draft

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Vegas helped them defy the odds.

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The chances of two Park friends being drafted by the same NHL team are theoretically 32-1, but in practice much longer than that. However, lifelong buddies Jordan Gustafson and Ben Hemmerling found themselves wearing the same shirts after the NHL Entry Draft in Montreal earlier this month.

The fact that the Vegas Golden Knights were the ones who fulfilled their stranger-defying dreams was ironic, at least in the manner of Alanis Morissette.

The first to hear his name was Gustafson, and he was chosen 79The tenth Overall in the third round of Vegas.

Gustafson, the forward, scored 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists) in 58 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League this season and added 16 points in 25 playoff games as he helped Seattle in the WHL Final.

“It was pretty cool,” said the five-foot-and-ten-year-old native Ardrossan. “I was just home with my mum and dad and when I saw my name on the board on the TV, I felt so pumped. Going to a place like Vegas, that’s exciting for me. It was one of the best places I wanted to go, and I was so excited to see my name. It was A very special moment.”

Sherwood Park native Ben Hemmerling has earned 47 points in 57 games with WHL Everett Silvertips this season.
Sherwood Park native Ben Hemmerling has earned 47 points in 57 games with WHL Everett Silvertips this season.

Hemmerling 177 . was selectedThe tenth Overall, he got a bit nervous while he waited until round six.

The 18-year-old Sherwood Park has 47 points (10 goals and 37 assists) in 57 games for WHL Everett Silvertips, adding four points in six playoffs.

“Enlistment day was like a whirlwind of emotions,” said Hemmerling, who is also a listed five-foot-10 striker. “I was sitting there with family and friends watching all the names being called and you start to get nervous when you get to the later rounds, but I was thrilled when I was finally chosen. You couldn’t ask for a better organization to go to.”

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Lifelong friends Jordan Gustafson and Ben Hemmerling found themselves selected by Vegas at the NHL Entry Draft in Montreal earlier this month.  The attached photo
Lifelong friends Jordan Gustafson and Ben Hemmerling found themselves selected by Vegas at the NHL Entry Draft in Montreal earlier this month. The attached photo

Even better is the added bonus of seeing a close friend take you from the same team.

“I’ve known Ben my whole life, he’s one of my longest-lasting friends,” Gustafson said. “We played hockey together when we were five and kind of worked our way up from there and played a lot of spring hockey together and for Team Brick. We traveled all over the country playing together. It was so special when we saw his name is also called and so cool, we ended up It’s with the same team. We were all so happy that he ended up in the same place. It was definitely very special for both of our families, just like today.”

“We’ve played together since we were at least four in Strathcona County junior hockey and spring hockey too,” added Hemmerling. “We’ve definitely gotten closer over the years. When we got to Bantam and Midgate we ended up in different places, but together we came back to the Pacific Northwest team at Junior with Seattle and Everett. It was great to have both of us called to the same team in the NHL draft What are the odds of that? I was so excited to go to Vegas with him. It would be so crazy if we ended up with them down the line. You’ve been dreaming of playing in the NHL your whole life and having the chance to do that with a guy you started playing with would be incredible.”

The attached photo
The attached photo

Gustafson was devastated when appendicitis destroyed junior camp

Both Park players recently attended the Junior Development Camp at the Golden Knights in Vegas and were happy to support each other. Although it was a good start, things didn’t go well at all for Gustafsson.

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“It made things a lot easier for the development camp,” he said, “and he has a familiar face there.” “Unfortunately I only played for two days and then got appendicitis. I had to go to hospital and have my appendix removed. It was a strange experience for me and I’m still recovering from it. But overall it was nice to go there and meet all the staff and browse the facility It was so amazing so many great pros helped us. It was definitely great to go in there and meet everyone and check everything out. But it was tough timing with my appendix. I only have to do three practices.”

“Knowing someone else out there made the transition a lot easier, that’s for sure,” Hemmerling said. “The camp was great. They have been long days for sure, but they are filled with many things to take home with you, even things like nutrition and cooking lessons and mental skills lessons. There were a bunch of ice stuff as well on them with their skill trainers. It was unfortunate that Jordan ended up in the hospital. I felt it. That was some hard luck there, but he’ll be back in no time.”

Both players were given similar things to work on if they hoped to make their way up the hockey ladder.

“I have to get my strength back,” said Hemmerling. “I’ve always been a younger guy. I just need to move on.”

“The most important thing for me is that I need to get stronger, to get faster,” Gustafson said. “I need a faster top speed. Increasing my strength will finish all aspects of my game – it will help my shot and my speed and give me a stronger base and foundation, so I’m not going to get rid of the pinch in corners. I’m really focused on a lot of different things right now and hopefully it all comes through.” This is for me.”

sjones@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Realshanejones

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