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Pair of Prince George hockey players showcasing skills at NHL Scouting Combine

Layton Ahac, Taylor Gauthier making cases as potential draft picks
Spruce Kings defenceman Layton Ahac (left) and Cougars goaltender Taylor Gauthier are two Prince George-based players going to the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine ahead of the Draft (via Kyle Balzer, Prince George Cougars)

We are less than two months from the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver.

Before the big day arrives for the world’s top junior hockey players to have their name called to the big league, over 100 of them, including two Prince George-based players, will try to up their stock at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, New York this week.

Spruce Kings defenceman Layton Ahac and Cougars goaltender Taylor Gauthier will be put through a series of challenges examining their physical and medical conditions, which gives all 31 NHL teams a chance to evaluate a potential draft pick.

Some of the fitness tasks include standing long jump, bench press, and pull-ups.

Players like Ahac and Gauthier could also have the chance to have one-on-one interviews with NHL scouts and personnel.

Ahac is coming off a career season in the B.C. Hockey League (BCHL), nabbing 32 points (four goals, 28 assists) in the regular season and averaged a point-per-game in the playoffs, helping the Spruce Kings win their first Fred Page and Doyle Cups in team history.

The 18-year-old is committed to playing at Ohio State University in the Fall and was ranked 62nd in NHL Central Scouting’s final report, jumping up 52 spots with the possibility of being picked as early as the second round of the Draft.

Between the pipes, Gauthier collected 15 wins with the Cougars this past season and a .899 save-percentage, but also gained more international experience.

The Calgary product recently suited up for Team Canada at the 2019 World Under-18 Hockey Championships in Sweden, earning three wins in four starts en route to a fourth-place finish.

He also participated in the NHL Prospects Game this year and is ranked seventh among North American netminders going into the Draft.

Athletes at the Combine include the projected number-one overall pick, American Jack Hughes, 14 other Western Hockey League (WHL) players in addition to Gauthier, and three other BCHL players like Victoria’s Alex Newhook.

This year’s NHL Draft, hosted by the Canucks, is June 21 and 22 at Rogers Arena.