By Scott Taylor
Photos by Dylan Asmundson
The 2023 Western Hockey League draft is around the corner and there are a lot of eyes on Portage la Prairie's Koy Funk. Funk is the 6-foot-1, 187-pound captain of the RINK Hockey Academy's U15 team. He's the team's leading scorer with 29 goals and 61 points and he's had a great season.
While his head coach, Brad Purdie, will never say who is or isn't likely to be drafted (there were nine members of Purdie's team who were selected in the WHL draft last spring), he knows people are talking about his captain. After all, Funk is a big body with leadership qualities who can score.
"Funker's been solid all year," said Coach Purdie. "When I first saw him, he reminded me of (Moose Jaw Warriors and former RHA star) Eric Alarie. He's a big body, heavy on the puck, heavy shot. He's still learning to use his body to protect the puck and Eric was very good at that.
"Koy was a Central Plains guy and through (player personnel director) Nick Fuher and his guys, we were able to get Koy fairly early in the recruiting process which was nice. A player with a big body and an impressive reputation like his, helps bring other players.
"He's been great. He's had an opportunity to play up with the U16s and I think he's going to be a good player. The potential is there. We've talked to a lot of WHL coaches and scouts and he's the guy everybody likes."
Funk grew up in Portage where his mom, Nancy, is the marketing manager for a credit union and his dad, Kelly, runs Keystone Sports Excellence. Kelly is also a Portage Terriers alumnus and Funk's older brother Reilly, 23, plays NCAA D-1 hockey at Northern Michigan University.
He has the size and skill required by WHL scouts, but he also has the character, leadership qualities and family support that WHL general managers love.
"I'm thinking I want to go the Western Hockey League route," he said. "My brother is down in the States, but we've had completely different hockey experiences. He was a late bloomer, and he didn't get his opportunity in the dub. I'm going to try and create my own opportunities in that league."
What has impressed Purdie the most this season is Funk's leadership abilities and the fact he's grown into the job as captain.
"He's a super kid, very coachable, very respectful," said Purdie. "We have our ideas of who we think might be a captain and we ask the players, and he was almost a unanimous decision for being our captain and our leader. We hope he gets selected this spring. He deserves a good look."
Scott Taylor | Game On Magazine https://gameonhockey.ca/