Getting cut from any sports team is a tough pill to swallow for any young athlete.
Jonah Bevington, though, is taking a glass-half-full approach to being let go by the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
The 16-year-old was one of Portland’s final cuts on Sept. 7 following their final pre-season game against the Seattle Thunderbirds but rather than mope about it, Bevington is thankful for having the chance to get as far as he did.
“I had a good camp and I learned a lot,” he said on Wednesday. “When I signed with the team in May, they told me the plan was that I would probably have a better shot of making the team when I was 17. I thought maybe 16 but they’re sticking to the plan.”
Bevington started out with everyone else invited to Portland’s camp in the Neely Cup, a pre-season tournament which features all of the invitees divided up into one of four teams with everyone getting three games of action.
From there, the club put together its pre-season squad, which included Bevington. He got the chance to play in two of the team’s first three pre-season games, which were part of a mini-tournament held in Everett, Washington. Bevington played on the top line and knotted three assists in his two games of action.
“I got the opportunity to show them what I could do,” said Bevington. “I was confident because I worked out all summer, building on my power. I was a lot more confident than I was last year.”
He travelled with the team to Kennewick, Washington for the second pre-season tournament hosted by the Tri-City Americans and got to play in one of the three games and it would be the end of the line from there for Bevington.
“My coach (Mike Johnston) told me I just wasn’t ready for the WHL yet,” said Bevington. “He told me what I needed to work on, keep improving and gain more confidence.”
Even though the likelihood of playing in the WHL wasn’t there, Bevington said there was always that glimmer of hope that things would work out in the end.
“I kept trying to think that I would make the team,” he said. “I always went out and gave it my best, played hard every shift and tried to make a good impression.”
He’s now in Edmonton getting ready to play in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League but he didn’t know what team he would be playing with as of press time. There are three teams from the Edmonton area playing in the league this year and there was a draft on Wednesday evening to determine who would play where for this season.
One thing Bevington knows is that there will be plenty of players just like him who will be playing in the league.
“Lots of guys from WHL camps and also AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League) camps,” he said. “It’s going to be good for me because it will be a good pace of hockey.”
There is one silver lining in all of this for Bevington because if the Winterhawks run into any sort of injury trouble or if players get released, there is the possibility he could get a phone call to join the club.
“If they need a player to fill in, I’ll be ready,” he said.