Tri-City Americans

Tory deals to grab goalie in bantam draft

When there's a good deal to be had, Bob Tory isn't one to let it pass him by.

With a talented goaltender still available in the first round of Thursday's Western Hockey League bantam draft, Tory made a deal with the Vancouver Giants to move up from 19th to 13th to select Eric Comrie of the L.A. Selects Bantam AAA.

Comrie became just the second goaltender taken by the Americans in the first round, joining Carey Price, who turned out to be well worth the seventh pick in 2002.

Price now plays for the Montreal Canadiens.

"(Comrie) is a tremendous kid and has tremendous talent," Tory said. "We feel like we got a real special player and kid. (Eric) has the potential to be a goaltender of similar caliber to Price or Dan Blackburn. Knowing how important the goaltending position is, we feel like we've filled this spot for years to come."

Comrie, 14, is a half-brother of Edmonton Oilers center Mike Comrie and former Edmonton center Paul Comrie. A native of Edmonton, Eric Comrie now calls Newport Beach, Calif., home.

Unlike his brothers, who went the college route, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Comrie is looking forward to playing in the WHL.

"It's a great honor to play for a team like Tri-City," Comrie said. "It's a great organization with a lot of great goalies making it to the NHL. They've shown in the past they develop good goalies."

Comrie admitted he had to do his homework when it came to the Americans, but liked what he saw.

"They've won three division titles and now they're playing in the finals," Comrie said. "I'm excited to play there."

Tory and the Comrie family go back 10 years when Mike left the University of Michigan to play for the Kootenay Ice during the 2000-01 season. Tory was the Ice GM at the time.

It's that relationship that helped erase any questions Bill Comrie may have had about his son playing in the WHL.

"Tri-City is a great program and Bob Tory is a good hockey guy," said Bill Comrie. "It's an honor for Eric to be drafted in the first round, and knowing that Bob traded to move up means they really wanted him. Bob has convinced us that this is where you get the most games."

And with the likes of Olie Kolzig, Brian Boucher, Price and Chet Pickard going through the program, Bill Comrie was convinced Tri-City is the right place for Eric.

"When you are going to a program, you always want to go to one of the better ones, and Tri-City is the top of the class when it comes to producing good goalies," Bill Comrie said.

Prince George had the first pick of the draft and selected Alex Forsberg, the younger brother of Cougars forward Jesse Forsberg.

The Americans, who traded their second-round pick to Lethbridge earlier this season for defenseman Eric Mestery, took players in the third, fourth, seventh (2 picks), eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th rounds, picking up five forwards and four defensemen.

With their third-round pick, the Americans took forward Justin Spagrud, a 6-foot, 145-pound winger from Gull Lake, Saskatchewan.

Defenseman Josh Wik (6-3, 184) of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, was taken in the fourth round, while in the seventh, Tri-City took defenseman Austin Seaman (5-11, 155) of Calgary and winger Taeron Lewis (5-10, 160) from Winnipeg.

Forward Brian Williams (5-8, 141) of Claremont, Calif., was the Americans' eighth-round pick, while defensemen Ryer Sawchuk (6-0, 160) of Taber, Alberta, and Clint Filbrandt (5-6, 120) of Calgary were taken in the ninth and 10th rounds.

In the 11th, Tri-City chose forward Andrew Oglevie (5-10, 150) of Fullerton, Calif., and in the 12th, the Americans took forward Taylor Marr (5-4, 131) of Twin Butte, Alberta.