Hockey player from Hockinson drafted first overall by Spokane Chiefs after freshman year in Kelowna


Brody Gillespie, a 15-year-old from Hockinson, was recently selected first overall by the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs in the U.S. Priority Draft.

Gillespie is a center and forward who played his U15 season for the RINK Hockey Academy in Kelowna, British Columbia, where he racked up 45 goals and 55 assists in just 61 games played.

“It’s amazing. I mean first overall, it’s just a number. So it doesn’t matter if you get drafted last in the draft or first in the draft, it’s just how hard you got to work to get it,” Gillespie said. “So it’s just the start for me right now, but I’m excited for the journey ahead.”

It’s not common for a kid from Clark County to play at a high level of hockey so soon in life.

“My dad played hockey a little bit growing up and my parents are Canadian,” Gillespie said while explaining his inspiration to pick up the game of hockey in the Portland Metro Area. “So I kind of grew up around the game. I always went to Portland games … I always found it fun when I was growing up.”

Gillespie first used a pair of skates when he was 2 years old and believes his first public hockey experience was at 3 or 4 years old where he played in Portland. Growing up, Gillespie attended Hockinson elementary and middle schools up until the eighth grade when he decided to start his freshman year of high school in Kelowna.

“The weather is amazing and, I mean, there’s lakes all over the place. A lot of water time and lots of hockey too,” Gillespie said of Kelowna.

He added that his season with RINK Hockey Academy had a few rough patches along the way, but his team finished second in Canada after an overtime loss in the finals.

“We have some amazing coaches and amazing teammates as well,” Gillespie said.

The reason for a serious hockey player to move to Canada is pretty simple, with the fact that in the Pacific Northwest opportunities for the game of hockey are few and far between.

“Just kind of based on how little amount of Pacific Northwest high school age hockey there is at a higher level,” Gillespie said as one of his main reasons to travel north across the border. “I started off playing with the coach’s son in spring, and then his dad is Jerome Iginla. So he was a Hall of Famer and he’s a huge guy in the game.”

Iginla played in the National Hockey League from 1996 all the way through 2017. Iginla is back in NHL duty as a special advisor to the general manager of the Calgary Flames, which was announced on Thursday, June 15. He will still coach the RINK Hockey Academy.

“I came here just to get better and he knows so much about the game but I’ve just gotten better all the way throughout the year,” Gillespie said. “And he’s a big reason I came and then having more challenge up here. I think because down in Portland there wasn’t as much hockey down there and then you kind of had to travel a long ways away to play some decent hockey. So I think up here it was a good choice just because we got rivals just down the road and then we always travel throughout Canada and play with unbelievable teams.”

Gillespie explained his love for going to WHL games and watching the Portland Winterhawks as a huge inspiration. He’s always wanted to play in the WHL, whether that be in Spokane, Portland or any of the U.S. division teams that are close to home.

“I’m excited to experience different things and go to different places and see different people and see like the opportunities I have because I got chances to go to the U17 teams like the U.S. team or like the world juniors and stuff like that. So I think it’s the best route for me to go,” Gillespie explained on beginning his journey in the WHL.