The 2023 NHL Entry Draft made dreams come true for 224 young hockey players, including Sanford's own Carter Sotheran. The defenceman was selected in the fifth-round, 135th overall, by the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Sotheran says it all happened very quickly.

"I was with my family and friends. We were having a little draft party. My agent mentioned that once he heard anything about my name, he was going to call me. A few minutes before I got drafted, he called me, and right then, I kind of knew it was happening. I saw that Philadelphia was up next," Sotheran continues. "I chatted with my agent, right after that, I hung up, and then a few minutes later, I was selected by Philadelphia."

Sotheran says his parents hugged him immediately after the pick was made and notes his main feeling for the rest of the night was disbelief. He adds the Flyers' organization didn't wait long to get in contact.

"The assistant general manager called me right after I was selected. He said hi and welcome and stuff like that."

The former Pembina Valley Hawk says getting drafted was a major milestone, and he made sure to take time to celebrate.

"It was me, my dad, and friends. We have a pool in our backyard, so we were in the pool for a bit. So, I was just with a bunch of people and had friends coming and going," Sotheran explains. "I just turned 18 a few days prior, so I had a drink with my dad. It was a good time."

While his rights are now controlled by an NHL franchise, Sotheran knows the work only intensifies from this point on.

"I want to really work on my strength over the summer and work on my skating. I'm going to take everything pretty serious. Eat good food and do the little things that help along the way," says Sotheran.

Sotheran put up 23 points in the WHL last season for the Portland Winterhawks. During the 2022-23 campaign, he battled against many of the 2023 draftees, including the other rural Manitoban Carson Bjarnason, who was also selected by the Flyers.

"I played against him in Bantam and Midget, so I'm familiar with him there. I also talked to him quite a bit at the (NHL draft) combine, with us both flying from Winnipeg," Sotheran continues. "I chatted with him at the airport and at the hotel. It's pretty cool that we both got drafted to the same place. I was happy for him. It's nice to have some I kind of know at camp. It's pretty special that we're both from Manitoba and both on the same team."

Bjarnason and Sotheran are currently in Philadelphia for the Flyer's Development Camp, which wraps up tomorrow.

Sotheran notes, being a defenceman from Manitoba, there's one Flyer in particular that he's looked up to.

"Travis Sanheim being from Manitoba, I talked to him a few years back. An agency of mine was close with him, and I got to chat with him. I think it's cool how it's coming full circle now, and I'll be going to the same camp as him," says Sotheran. "He sent me a text after the draft. It's pretty cool getting a text from a super good NHL player."

The Philadelphia Flyers had a record of 31-38-13 last season.