There will be at least one Yellowknife hockey player playing junior A hockey this season and it’s someone who has already had a taste of the semi-pros.
Jack Works will suit up with the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League this season after making the final cut of the team’s training camp earlier this month. He spent the last four seasons with the Edge School in Calgary, where he notched 68 regular season goals and added 38 assists over that time.
Works said he was invited to the team’s summer camp back in June, which came with another invite to the team’s main camp this month.
“I’ve played with the head coach’s (Tyler Deis) spring team as a bantam, the Junior Oilers, and I’ve always gone to their camps,” he said. “It’s a great place to play and I’ve been to their games to watch. They have a full house pretty much every game and they’re always a top team in the league every season.”
Playing in Okotoks has always been on his mind, he added, and it was the one place he preferred to be if he ever got the call to play in the AJHL.
Works already knows what it’s like to play with the big club as he suited up for one regular season game last season against the Camrose Kodiaks.
He said he found out just how much different the junior A style is to the major midget style, which he played last season.
“It’s a lot faster and the players are tougher,” he said. “I felt I played well in that game but I’m a better player now than I was then and I’m a bit more comfortable with the team and the style.”
Because of that one game, Works said he’s not too nervous about making his debut with the team, which will happen this evening at home when the Oilers take on the Brooks Bandits, one of the perennial contenders of the AJHL.
“I was nervous in that game last season but the guys have been really good in making me feel like I’m part of the team,” he said.
The AJHL has always had the reputation of being a “size league” with the players being bigger and stronger than other leagues.
Works said he’s not too concerned about the size but more about being tough.
“Size can be important but it’s all about being tougher and playing stronger than your opponent,” he said. “It’s being stronger and competing with everyone else.”
If there was a letdown, Works joked that it was his jersey number.
“I’ve got no. 25, my second choice,” he said. “Rookies don’t usually get their number when they first come in.”