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Prince George Cougars chose Alex Forsberg first overall in WHL draft @NHLdotcom

EDMONTON - Alex Forsberg was excited Thursday to learn he'll join his brother Jesse on the Prince George Cougars.

The Cougars made the young centre the first overall pick in the Western Hockey League bantam draft.

Clubs chose players born in 1995 to add to their player protected lists.

The Cougars selected Jesse, a defenceman, in the first round of the 2008 draft.

"It's great to be joining my brother in Prince George," Forsberg said in a release. "Being the first pick happens to only one player every year and to be one of those players is really special."

The five-foot-nine, 170-pound forward was the top-scoring rookie in the Saskatchewan Midget triple-A Hockey League and finished tied for third in the overall scoring race with 26 goals and 46 assists in 44 games for the Beardy's Blackhawks.

Forsberg also had seven goals and nine assists in six playoff games.

"It's almost unprecedented for a second-year bantam player to not only play Midget triple-A, but to dominate," Cougars assistant general manager Wade Klippenstein said. "His maturity as a player, his intelligence and his ability to score really give him all the important characteristics of becoming a great hockey player."

The Cougars finished last in the WHL standings and won the right to draft first in a lottery between the six non-playoff teams.

The Edmonton Oil Kings chose centre Curtis Lazar of Vernon, B.C., second overall. The Lethbridge Hurricanes made Calgary centre Jonathon Merkley the No. 3 selection. Calgary defenceman Jared Hauf went fourth to the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Regina Pats took centre Morgan Klimchuk of Calgary at No. 5.

The teams had their pick of eligible players from the four western Canadian provinces, Northwest Territories and Yukon, as well as the U.S. states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Previous No. 1 selections in the draft include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels, the 2008 pick who was named rookie of the year this season; Quinton Howden, Moose Jaw Warriors (2007); Jared Cowen, Spokane Chiefs (2006); Colten Teubert, Regina Pats (2005); Gilbert Brule, Vancouver Giants (2002); Kyle Chipchura, Prince Albert Raiders (2001); Braydon Coburn, Portland Winter Hawks (2000); and Jay Bouwmeester, Medicine Hat Tigers (1998).

The Ontario Hockey League draft is Saturday. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft will be held June 5.

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