WASILLA — Tanner Schachle and Colton Fletcher grew up playing hockey together.
The duo skated through the youth and comp ranks before playing two seasons of high school hockey together with the Wasilla Warriors. The longtime friends skated on different squads during the 2013-14 high school season. But there’s a chance Schachle and Fletcher could be reunited.
Both Schachle and Fletcher were selected by the Kenai River Brown Bears during the second round of the North American Hockey League annual draft earlier this week.
Schachle, a Wasilla High incoming senior, was taken with the 37th pick in the draft. Last season, Schachle helped the Wasilla Warriors finish third in the ASAA 4A state tourney, the program’s highest finish in the tourney since Wasilla placed second in 1989.
Fletcher, who left WHS after his sophomore year to skate for the Omaha Lancers in the North American Prospects Hockey League, was taken two picks later. Both players participated in Kenai River’s Alaska camp last month.
Both Schachle and Fletcher said they felt they did well at the camp, but neither was sure if they’d be selected by the Tier II Junior A hockey team.
“I had a good camp. I talked to the coach, but he never really mentioned anything,” Schachle said.
Schachle said he was really excited to be drafted. He said he’s also excited that both he and Fletcher were selected by the same team.
“We’ve been playing together all of our lives. We played together at camp and did really good. It’d be cool to (play with him again),” Schachle said.
Schachle, who also played for the Alaska Junior Aces U18 AAA team, said he feels he’s ready to make the jump to junior hockey.
“I need to put on a little weight and get stronger and bigger, but I definitely think I’m ready,” Schachle, a 6-foot-1 left wing said.
Being drafted does not guarantee that either Schachle or Fletcher will be on the Kenai River regular season roster for the 2014-15 season. Each will have to attend the team’s main offseason camp and make the roster. Kenai River does own the league rights for both players by drafting them.
Schachle said he’ll certainly have to put in the work during the offseason, but is excited about the potential of skating for the Brown Bears and playing junior hockey in his home state.
Fletcher has more than one possible landing spot for his 2014-15 season. After his sophomore year, Fletcher was selected by the Lincoln Stars in the United States Hockey League draft last year. Lincoln, a Tier I Junior A hockey organization, holds Fletcher’s USHL rights. Fletcher is attending Lincoln’s main offseason camp, which begins June 12.
Regardless of his potential future in the USHL, Fletcher said he was happy to be drafted by the NAHL’s Brown Bears.
“It’s a pretty good honor to be drafted by them,” Fletcher said.
Like Schachle, Fletcher said he’s excited about a potential reunion on the ice.
“I’ve known Tanner all my life. We’ve been best friends,” Fletcher said.
After he was selected by Lincoln after his sophomore season, Fletcher skated for the Omaha Lancers of the NAPHL.
“It’s the best thing that happened for me in my hockey career. It matured me as a person and as a hockey player,” Fletcher said. “It was really good for me.”
Schachle and Fletcher were among nine players selected by Kenai River in the draft.
“Both have always been strong players,” Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said after the draft. “Both skate well, are strong on the puck and have excellent finish around the net. Tanner is more a guy that gets his nose dirty around the net. He plays a physical game with high-end skill. I think Colton brings puck protection and poise.”