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Defenceman Keith Aulie felt fated for Calgary Flames in the NHL draft

One of the part-owners of the Flames is Doc Seaman, who is from Aulie's hometown of Rouleau, Sask.

Aulie also won this year's Western Hockey League's scholastic player-of-the-year award, which is named after Seaman.

So it seemed fated that the Flames would take six-foot-six, 208-pound Brandon Wheat Kings player. They did - in the fourth round, 116th overall.

"I'm surprised I got drafted there," Aulie said while en route to Saskatoon, where he and his parents were to attend a wedding. "To know they picked me in the fourth round means a lot."

If you believe in karma, Aulie created some of the good kind when he pulled his father Bill out of icy water on their farm a year and a half ago.

Aulie's billet family in Brandon was coming to visit the farm just east of Rouleau during the December holidays. Bill got the tractor out to clear the ice for a game of outdoor shinny for New Year's Day.

"I was three-quarters of the way across, heard a crack and was underwater after about 10 seconds," Bill recalled.

He managed to get out of the cab of the tractor, but was trapped under the ice. Keith says he doesn't remember how he got his father out, but managed to pull him through the hole made by the tractor.

Bill is almost as big as his son and was heavier because his winter clothes were full of water.

"When you've got that kind of adrenaline pumping through you, you can do it," Keith said.

Keith doesn't know what would have happened to his father had he not been there to pull him out, but Bill does.

"I actually thought it was the end," he said. "I was pretty happy he was a big, strong boy that day."

Keith received the Red Cross Rescuer Award for helping his dad.

He's a big, stay-at-home defenceman whom the Flames like for his size and skating ability.

"When you watch the Stanley Cup final and you see those big forwards that Anaheim has, you need big defenceman that can skate with them," said Flames director of scouting Tod Button. "We think he's the kind of guy down the road who can play against those power forwards."

After acquiring veteran defenceman Adrian Aucoin in a trade with Chicago and taking Swedish forward Mikael Backlund at No. 24 in the first round Friday, Calgary collected four draft picks in the remaining six rounds of the draft Saturday.

Backlund, six feet and 194 pounds had 20 goals and 26 assists in 41 games for the Swedish club team Vasteras this past season.

Calgary took another big defenceman, John Negrin of the Kootenay Ice, in the third round at No. 70 with an extra pick GM Darryl Sutter gained by dropping in the first round and giving up the No. 18 position to St. Louis.

Negrin, from West Vancouver, B.C., is six foot two and 195 pounds. He's another stay-at-home defenceman who missed the first half of the season with a head injury he suffered in his first game of the season with the Ice.

"There's very few kids who don't get hurt during the year so it's not a factor for us," Button said.

Calgary's other draft picks were:

-Centre Mickey Renaud, 143rd overall, from the OHL's Windsor Spitfires. Son of former Hartford Whaler Mark Renaud.

-Winger C.J. Severyn, 186th overall, from the U.S. under-18 team. He'll play for Ohio State next year.


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