WHL journey a special one for Masella

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Jeremy Masella celebrates with teammate Aliaksei Protas after scoring an overtime goal against the Winnipeg Ice last season.

From being signed by the Victoria Royals in August 2016 to hoisting the Ed Chynoweth Cup at the Art Hauser Centre last May, Prince Albert Raiders blueliner Jeremy Masella went through quite a lot during his four years in the Western Hockey League.

“As everyone says, it goes by a lot quicker than you think it will,” Masella said on Tuesday. “It feels like I was traded to Prince Albert recently instead of two years ago and that we had won the league championship last week.

“I’ve really enjoyed the last four years in the WHL and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. It’s exciting to go into the next phase of my life but there’s a bit of a disappointment as I’ve had an awesome time in this league. It’s a different way of life and something special to be a part of.”

As the 21-year-old prepares to finalize his plans for the 2020-21 campaign, Masella has been keeping busy by staying active alongside his younger brother and amateur wrestler Raphael.

“I took a little bit of a break at the beginning but then I started to get a bit bored just sitting around and doing nothing all day,” Masella said.

“I’m just trying to stay as healthy and as active as I can. Obviously it’s important to start building things before I start training in the summer, but it’s more about having some fun right now and helping my brother train for his wrestling.”

After going undrafted in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, Masella signed a deal with the Royals two years later after spending a pair of seasons with the Arizona Bobcats program.

“I had gone to Victoria’s camp the year before and not much came of it, so I was just keeping my options open going into my 16-year-old season,” Masella said.

“When I went back to Victoria for my 17-year-old season, they asked me to sign again and everything went from there. The WHL is a pretty special league with a bunch of good organizations and I felt it would be the best route to go down to be the best player that you can be.”

Masella had eight points in 63 games over the course of two seasons for the Royals when he was traded to the Raiders on Jan. 4, 2018 in exchange for forward D-Jay Jerome.

“Victoria was a great place to play…but my opportunities definitely rose once I got to Prince Albert,” Masella said.

“It was also a bit of a different situation between the two teams. Victoria had a pretty good team that year so it wasn’t like every game was as crucial as it was in Prince Albert, where we were fighting to just make it to the playoffs. It was pretty special to be out there in those games as they were all important to us.”

The Phoenix, Ariz. product would go on to post 34 points in 165 regular season games for the Raiders and was named as one of the team’s assistant captains during the 2019-20 campaign.

As one would expect, Masella’s most memorable moment with the team came on May 12, 2019,  as the Raiders captured their second league title in a dramatic Game 7 overtime affair against the Vancouver Giants.

“I’ve got pictures from that game and I look at my championship ring all of the time,” Masella said. “It’s something that we’ll never forget as a team and I was truly lucky to be a part of it.

“The fans gave us so much support as well and I have to thank them for that. I could tell that Prince Albert was a hockey town as soon as I got there and it was unreal to play in front of them for the last three years.”