As he prepares for the Prince Albert Raiders training camp later this month, Ozzy Wiesblatt is coming off one of the highlights of his hockey career to date.
The 16-year-old forward got the chance to attend Hockey Canada’s National Under-17 Development Camp, which was held in his hometown of Calgary from July 21-27.
“It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Wiesblatt said. “To be invited to a Hockey Canada event and to be able to put on that logo for the first time was incredible.
“I learned quite a lot at the camp. The mental side of the game was something that they really stressed with all of us and making sure that we’re prepared both on and off the ice.”
Wiesblatt was one of 111 players who were invited to the event, which helps to determine who will make up the three Canadian teams that will compete at the 2018 World Under-18 Hockey Challenge in Quispamsis and Saint John, N.B. in November.
He took to the ice in three scrimmages for Team Black and had a goal and an assist.
“I think I was able to show the coaches there that I’m not just an offensive player,” Wiesblatt said.
“I like to play a 200-foot game and I showed that I can lay the body if I have to.”
In addition to going up against Raiders defensive prospect Kaiden Guhle in one of the games, Wiesblatt also got a chance to bond with players from across Canada during the week.
“I was the only player from Alberta on my team so it was great to have the chance to meet a lot of new people,” Wiesblatt said.
“It was really cool to meet the guys from Quebec. They speak mostly French and I was able to learn a few words from them along the way.”
A second round pick by the Raiders in the 2017 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, Wiesblatt suited up for the Calgary Midget Buffaloes this past season and had 21 goals and 20 assists in 33 games.
He also scored a goal in his first WHL game on Jan. 21 as he suited up for the Raiders during a road game against the Calgary Hitmen.
“I think the biggest improvement I made last year was with my speed,” Wiesblatt said.
“I feel like I’m a lot faster from where I was at the start of last season and it’s something I’m continuing to work on.”
In addition to getting faster on the ice, Wiesblatt has spent a lot of time working on his shot this summer as he attempts to crack the Raiders roster on a full-time basis.
“I want to put up as many goals as I can this year, so I’ve been really focused on those two parts of my game in order to be ready for the next level,” Wiesblatt said.