It’s a time-tested strategy, but it works.
As one of two Prince Albert Raiders selected to play in January’s CHL Top Prospects Game, Ozzy Wiesblatt is obviously excited. Still, the Calgary, Alta. product is trying to do what past players have always done in this situation: treat it like a regular fixture at the Art Hauser Centre.
“It’s obviously a big game and televised,” Wiesblatt said in a phone interview on Thursday. “I think I’m just trying to treat it like any other game. I mean, obviously there are a lot more people watching, so it’s just about trying to stay calm and play your game.”
Wiesblatt and fellow Raider Kaiden Guhle are two of 13 WHL players slated to take part in the annual contest. The game features the best draft-eligible players in Canadian junior hockey and for the 10th year in a row it will include a Prince Albert Raider.
It’s also the first time since 2004 the team has sent two players. That year, forwards Dane Byers and Kyle Chipchura both received invitations, although injuries kept Chipchura from dressing. He was replaced by Toronto St. Michael’s Majors forward Tyler Haskins.
“Kaiden and I have always been real competitive guys, in practice and games, so it’s really nice to go through it with somebody,” Wiesblatt said. “I’m happy for him.”
Wiesblatt views the game as a great opportunity, and one he wouldn’t have without his teammates. He said they deserve a lot of credit for helping him refine his game over the past year, and helping him earn a spot in the January showcase.
“Being surrounded with all the guys we had this year, they’re a real big part of why I was selected, so a lot of that credit’s due to them,” he said.
Wiesblatt has 15 goals and 24 assists in 33 games this season. He’s rated as a potential second or third round pick according to NHL Central Scouting.
The 2020 CHL Top Prospects Game will be played Thursday, Jan. 16 in Hamilton, Ont.
The Prince Albert Raiders are one of 10 WHL teams with players heading to the annual showcase. The Kamloops Blazers (Dylan Garand, Connor Zary) and Brandon Wheat Kings (Braden Schneider, Ridly Greig) are the only other western clubs with more than one player in the game.