Category: Local Sports
Published: Thursday, 30 June 2016 05:50
Written by Gino De Paoli
For former Okotoks Oiler Rhett Gardner his career since his time at Pason Centennial Arena, to winning an NCAA Championship back in March, has been one long winding road but all the hard work and dedication earned him a call on the 2016 NHL Draft floor last weekend.
The current North Dakota Fighting Hawk was drafted in the fourth round of the draft 116th overall by the Dallas Stars, what makes Gardner's story more compelling is his age.
Gardner turned 20 back in February which makes him one of the older players taken in the draft where the majority of players are taken with birth years in 1998 or 1997.
When he joined the Oilers back in 2013 he was on the NHL's players to watch list and was ranked going into the previous two drafts but never got that elusive phone call.
The Moose Jaw native says he was overwhelmed when he found out he was drafted and found out the same way his family and friends did on June 25: through the Internet.
“I honestly thought I had a good chance I'd be picked but I thought it would have been more in the sixth or seventh round just from all the stuff I read on twitter or just from the feel I got from teams I talked to,” he says. “I actually never talked to Dallas once before the draft so I wasn't really expecting my name to be called when their pick was up but they took me and I couldn't be happier to go to them.”
Gardner spent draft day with his family back home because his younger sister Kasey was graduating high school and says it was nice to be around family when he found out he'd became a Dallas Star.