Sports

NHL teams claim Surrey pair

Surrey
Surrey's Reece Wilcox, who played last season with the BCHL's Merritt Centennials, was claimed by the Philadelphia Flyers in last weekend's NHL Entry Draft.
— image credit: FILE PHOTO / THE LEADER

A pair of Surrey natives headed off to the NCAA in the fall had their names called at last weekend’s National Hockey League Entry Draft in Pittsburgh.

Forward Jujhar Khaira of the Prince George Spruce Kings was taken by the Edmonton Oilers, while defenceman Reece Willcox had his name called by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Khaira was the second pick in the third round, the Oilers claiming the six-foot three, 195-pound forward with the 63rd pick overall, higher than many expected.

He was listed 74th on Central Scouting Services’ final draft rankings in April, the highest rating by a BCHL player. He received an invite to the NHL Scouting Combine, May 28 to June 2 in Toronto, where his stock rose higher.

He placed top 10 in four of the physical tests at the combine. He had the seventh longest wingspan, was fifth on the bench press, eighth in strength lifting and fourth in upper body power.

Khaira, who has committed to play in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) with Michigan Tech for 2012-13, completed his second season in Prince George this past season.

The 17-year-old netted 29 goals and 50 assists for the Spruce Kings, almost tripling his production of 10 goals in his rookie season.

He will celebrate his 18th birthday Aug. 13.

The Flyers claimed Willcox with the 141st pick in the fifth round.

Willcox, 18, has spent the last two seasons with the Merritt Centennials, scoring five goals in each campaign.

He was a member of Canada West at the 2011 World Junior A Challenge in Langley, playing five games and earning a gold medal.

“It is an amazing feeling getting drafted, especially to a great franchise like Philadelphia,” said Willcox. “As proud as my family and I are, this is just the beginning and I need to work hard to get a chance to play for the Flyers in the future.”

The future is a ways off for Willcox. A six-foot-two, 185 pound defenceman, he will join Cornell University for 2012-13.

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