Family Bloodlines in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft: Victoria Cougars and Nanaimo Islanders

The 2020 Western Hockey League (WHL) bantam draft took place on April 22nd with 233 players selected. Two of the picks had fathers who played in the WHL for the Victoria Cougars. The 1st round pick of the Victoria Royals is related to a former Nanaimo Islander who went on to play in the National Hockey League (NHL).


Lukas Dragicevic - drafted in the 1st round (fourth overall) by the Tri City Americans.

Position: Defence

Hometown: Richmond, BC

Previous Team: Delta Hockey Academy Bantam Prep Green

Lukas’ father, Milan Dragicevic, played in the Western Hockey League with five teams over four years. Dragicevic began the 1989-90 seasons with the Spokane Chiefs but was traded half way through the year to the Victoria Cougars for Brent Thurston (both are now coaches at the Delta Hockey Academy). With the Cougars, Dragicevic collected 19 points in 32 games. The 1989-90 Victoria Cougars were one the worst teams in the history of the WHL as they won only five games all year and had a record 32 game losing streak.

Dragicevic went on to play four years at Acadia University before starting his coaching career as an assistant with the WHL Tri-City Americans. After two seasons, he became head coach of the expansion Drayton Valley Thunder of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He guided the Thunder for two years, leading them to a first place finish in 1998-99. His success with the Thunder caught the attention of the WHL expansion Vancouver Giants who named Dragicevic their first ever head coach in 2000. In his two years with the Giants, Dragicevic had a 39-86-11 record and led them to their first playoff appearance in 2002. After being swept in the 2002 playoffs by the Kelowna Rockets, his contract was not renewed.

The University of British Columbia became Dragicevic’s home for the next twelve years (2002-2014) as head coach of the Thunderbirds hockey team, winning the conference Coach of the Year award in 2012.

Dragicevic had a couple of small acting roles as an extra, playing a Czech hockey player in the movie Miracle and a Klingon in a 2001 episode of Frasier.

Currently, Dragicevic is the U18 Prep Head Coach at the Delta Hockey Academy and Director of Hockey Operations for the Richmond Ravens Female Hockey Association.

Hayden Chaloner - drafted in the 7th round by the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Position - Center

Hometown: Winnipeg, MB

Previous Team: Winnipeg Sharks B1AAA


Hayden’s father, Kane Chaloner, played for the Cougars in 1991-92 and was a star player in his home province of Manitoba. As a member of the Winnipeg Hawks in 1990, Chaloner was named to the all star team at the Mac's Midget AAA World Invitational Tournament. In 1991, He led the Hawks in scoring with 82 points on a line with future NHL player Brad Chartrand. The Hawks were a strong team and went all the way to the 1991 Air Canada Cup tournament (national midget 'AAA' hockey championship). Although the Hawks finished fourth, Chaloner was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Chaloner moved up to the Victoria Cougars in 1991 scoring 20 points in 67 games on a team that only won 15 games and went through three head coaches. He spent the next three years with the St. Boniface Saints of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League winning the league championship in 1994 and selected to the all star game three times.

Austin Zemlak - drafted in the 1st round (13th overall) by the Victoria Royals.

Position: Defence

Hometown: Fort McMurray, AB

Previous Team: OHA Edmonton Bantam Prep

Austin’s great uncle (his father’s uncle), Richard Zemlak, started his WHL career in 1980-81 with the Spokane Flyers. That year, the Flyers were swept in four games by the Victoria Cougars in the opening round of the playoffs. In the summer of 1981 Zemlak was drafted by St. Louis Blues in the 10th round. For the next two years he played on four different WHL teams (Spokane, Winnipeg, Medicine Hat and the Nanaimo Islanders). While with the Islanders in 1982-83, Zemlak scored 10 points in 18 games after being traded from Medicine Hat halfway through the season for Mark Lamb.

In 1983, Zemlak started his professional career and bounced between the NHL and the minors for the next eleven years. He played on four NHL teams - the Quebec Nordiques, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames. As a pro, he become much more of a fighter than he was in junior (here is a YouTube video of a fight between Zemlak and former Cougar Glen Cochrane). His best season was 1987/88 with the Minnesota North Stars, picking up five points and 307 penalty minutes in 57 games. In 132 career NHL games, Zemlak scored 14 points while collecting 587 penalty minutes.

After his retirement from hockey, Zemlak started selling real estate and is a realtor for Keller Williams Realty in Edina, Minnesota

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