Langford netminder Dylan Garand blazing impressive trail

Waiting out a pandemic at home in Langford is not the way Dylan Garand envisioned his NHL draft year playing out.

“It’s a strange scenario,” said the Island goaltender.

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“Nobody expected it to end like this. It’s disappointing not to get to contest the playoffs, especially with the calibre of team we had. But there are more important things going on the world right now.”

Garand had backstopped the Kamloops Blazers to the B.C. Division championship before the Western Hockey League regular season and playoffs were cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Garand is the sixth-ranked North American goaltender for the 2020 NHL draft in Central Scouting’s final ratings released Wednesday. The only WHL goaltender ranked ahead of the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association product is Garin Bjorklund of the Medicine Hat Tigers, who is listed fifth overall. Garand, who doesn’t turn 18 until June, sported a 2.21 goals-against average and .921 save percentage with four shutouts in 44 appearances for the Blazers.

There are 52 WHL performers from 19 teams listed for the 2020 NHL draft, which has been postponed from its original June 26-27 date. The Portland Winterhawks and Saskatoon Blades have the most WHL players represented with five each. The Everett Silvertips, Lethbridge Hurricanes, and Prince Albert Raiders each have four players listed. The Victoria Royals are among only three WHL teams not to have a player on the list.

Forward Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who led Canada to the gold medal in the 2020 world junior championship, is the top-ranked North American skater and likely No. 1 overall pick.

Forward Kyler Kovich, who paced the Nanaimo Clippers to the Island Division regular-season title, is among four B.C. Hockey League players cited. Kovich, named Clippers captain for next season and committed to Cornell of the NCAA for 2021-22, is the 168th-ranked North American skater.

With the junior hockey and NCAA seasons cancelled, the North American draft hopefuls are staying fit individually.

“I’m doing a lot of running around Westhills, dryland training and lifting weights to keep up strength for next season,” said Garand.

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