Zach Biggar is staying in the Maritimes.
The 16-year-old Portage native was the first of nine Islanders selected Saturday at the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft in Quebec City.
The Acadie-Bathurst Titan picked the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild blue-liner in the second round, 27th overall.
“Leading up to this morning I was really nervous and excited,” he said Saturday afternoon. “I didn't really know what was going to happen, so it’s a sigh of relief going to a great spot like Bathurst and I’m really excited to get going.”
The first round of the draft can drag on with each team going to the stage to announce their selection. The player then makes his way down to stage to pull on the jersey and get his photo taken.
But the subsequent rounds move quicker with the selections coming from each team’s draft table.
“All of a sudden I heard Bathurst and I heard my name,” Biggar explained. “Right there I knew I had to go down and meet all their staff and put on that jersey and hat. I was pretty excited.”
He said it is great going to an organization where Summerside native Noah Dobson excelled after being selected in the first round of the 2016 draft.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to make the jump next year and develop just like Noah did when he got there,” said the five-foot-11, 172-pound Biggar.
He also knows Mermaid’s Cole Larkin, who played the second half of the season with the Titan after starting the year with Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride major midgets. Biggar said it would help with the transition to major junior.
The next Islander to get drafted went to Dobson’s current team.
Jacob Squires went in the third round to the Memorial Cup champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The six-foot, 180-pound Charlottetown native went 39th overall after playing for the Pride this season.
“I couldn't be more excited,” Squires said.
While Memorial Cup championship squads are often are torn apart after winning the Canadian Hockey League’s top prize, Squires is encouraged by what he has witnessed from the franchise in the past in terms of its ability to draft and develop players.
“A couple of years ago they lost the Memorial Cup final to the London Knights . . . then this year they come back, and they win the Memorial Cup,” Squires said. “They’re proven winners.”
Squires had a telephone interview with the Huskies before that draft, which he estimated lasted about an hour.
“I thought they were interested, for sure, so I am just happy to be a Husky right now,” he said.
He thought there might be a few other landing spots for him and acknowledged there were some butterflies in his stomach as the draft entered the third round.
“Just to hear my name called was a huge relief,” he said.
Both players acknowledged the support of their families, teammates and coaches who helped them to get to get to Saturday’s draft.
Wild forward Jack Campbell, a Souris native, was the other Islander to go in the top 100. He went 99th overall to the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
A look at the Prince Edward Island hockey players selected Saturday in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft. The list includes when a player was selected, his position, new team and 2018-19 squad.
27. D Zach Biggar, Acadie-Bathurst, Kensington.
39. D Jacob Squires, Rouyn-Noranda, Charlottetown.
99. C Jack Campbell, Drummondville, Kensington.
133. D Michael McQuaid, Victoriaville, Newbridge.
147. C Alex Graham, Charlottetown, Charlottetown.
157. D Matt McQuaid, Charlottetown, Kensington.
172. F Isaac Wilson, Moncton, Kensington.
190. RW Connor Keough, Moncton, Notre Dame.
247. F Max Chisholm, Charlottetown, Charlottetown.