Raiders’ Wiesblatt nets first junior hockey goal

Prince Albert Raiders forward Ozzy Wiesblatt (42) follows the puck as his team plays the Calgary Hitmen on Jan. 21. Robert Murray/Western Hockey League

The third time may be a charm, but for Ozzy Wiesblatt, his first Western Hockey League goal was pretty special, too.

The 15-year-old Prince Albert Raiders’ affiliate player scored his first WHL goal in his first WHL game last Sunday against the Calgary Hitmen.

What’s more is he did it in Calgary – his hometown – while his friends and family were watching in the stands of the city’s Saddledome. 

“It was awesome,” he said after the game.

Ozzy is one of four Wiesblatt boys making a go of it in the western Canada hockey scene.

His eldest brother, Ocean, has committed to play for the University of Vermont Catamounts, which is a NCAA division 1 men’s hockey program.

His older brother, Orca, has played 26 games so far this year with the Hitmen, tallying 10 points through 26 games.

His younger brother, Oasiz, has notched 23 points through 23 games this year in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League.

Ozzy was drafted by the Raiders in the second round, 25th overall, in the 2017 WHL Bantam draft.

On Sunday, the P.A. club called him to join the team for it’s game against Calgary; he was needed to fill a roster spot after 20-year-old Regan Nagy injured his right leg the night before in Medicine Hat.

The Sunday game was a 4-3 overtime loss for the Raiders.

Despite the loss, the 15-year-old said his first junior hockey goal was a memorable one.

“I went to the slot, and (20-year-old centreman) Jordy Stallard passed the puck to me on the backhand,” he explained.

It was actually Curtis Miske who set up him for the goal; Stallard made sure to collect the puck and give it to Wiesblatt after he had scored.

“I barely touched it, but it went in and I was thrilled. When I got back on the bench, the boys were patting me and saying ‘congrats.’ It’s one of the best feelings I’ve had for sure.”

He commended his linemate, centreman Carson Miller, and head coach Marc Habscheid for giving him a pep talk in the minutes leading up to this first game.

“(Miller) was just saying ‘don’t overthink it and play the game you can play.’

“Marc Habscheid said, ‘just be confident in yourself, just do what you can do and play your game.’”

Such advice seemed to work out for Ozzy. His goal came by way of a longer shift, one that kept him on the ice as his linemates jumped off. He soon found himself skating alongside Stallard and fellow 20-year-old Curtis Miske.

“I saw something develop, so I kind of took my chance,” he explained.

Miske turned the puck over in Calgary’s zone, to the back, right side of Hitmen goalie Nick Schneider. He then skated to Calgary’s faceoff circle and backhanded the puck to Wiesblatt, who had just slipped into the slot, behind Calgary’s defenceman. The 15-year-old then tapped the puck past Schneider’s right side.

“I guess it was a pretty long shift, but I think it was pretty good that I stayed out there,” he said.

The Calgarian said the game was a good learning experience for “what it’s going to take to be in the (WHL) next year.”

In the context of his team’s overtime loss after Calgary came back for the win, he said, “that’s a perfect example of what not to do when you’re up, to never really let go and think you’ve already won the game, and keep pushing.”

“I think that’s something I can take with me.”

The Raiders (18-20-7-2) host the Prince George Cougars (18-23-4-3) Friday at the Art Hauser Centre at 7 p.m. They host the Edmonton Oil Kings (13-27-5-2) on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Raiders are in sixth spot in the WHL’s East Division. They’re four points back of the fifth-place Saskatoon Blades (23-23-2-1) and 10 points back of the fourth-place Regina Pats (25-20-5-0).

The team confirmed that Wiesblatt will not be joining it for the two weekend games.

Meanwhile, Nagy is on the team’s injured list with a lower body injury. He’ll be out indefinitely, according to a weekly report from the WHL released on Wednesday.

The team updated that status on Friday, saying Nagy’s status is week-to-week. 

In the team’s Medicine Hat game on Jan. 20, Nagy got tangled up with a Tigers player as he was changing directions and trying to gain possession of the puck. As the pair fell to the ice, Nagy caught the front tip of his right skate in the ice; his ankle and knee appeared to twist underneath him as he fell backwards.