After stellar WHL season, Wolf chosen California Rubber Junior Player of the Year
Dustin Wolf is coming.
If not next season, then for sure in 2021.
Pro hockey, you’ve been warned.
That is about all that’s left for the 2001 birth year, who was unquestionably the top junior goaltender in North America during the 2019-20 season, and as such, he is the pick as California Rubber Magazine’s All-California Junior Player of the Year.
Wolf, a longtime Los Angeles Jr. King and current Everett Silvertips netminder, was selected the CHL’s Goaltender of the Year in early June after leading all major junior goalies in goals-against average (1.88), save percentage (.935) and shutouts (nine). His 34 wins were second most.
The Tustin native was also honored as USA Hockey’s Dave Peterson Goaltender of the Year and WHL Goaltender of the Year. He was the first goaltender from California to win the CHL and USA Hockey awards.
Wolf’s magical year began in late June of 2019, when the Calgary Flames selected him four picks from the end of the NHL Draft. He was named to the U.S. World Junior team last winter. On the heels of his dominant junior season, Calgary wasted no time signing him to a three-year, entry-level contract in May.
He would have to make the Flames out of training camp later this year to begin his pro career. If he doesn’t, he’s a good bet to rewrite just about every goaltending record for the Silvertips.
In just about any other year, either of these two players would be shoo-ins to be picked as players of the year. Their seasons were so excellent that they warrant special mention:
Forward Brendan Brisson: The former Jr. King took the United States Hockey League by storm in his first full season on the circuit, winning rookie-of-the-year honors after finishing second in scoring (59 points), first in power-play points (24) and second in points per game (1.31) by one hundredth of a point for a stacked Chicago team. A late 2001, the Michigan commit is ranked among the top 20 North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the 2020 NHL Draft, whenever it might take place.
Goaltender Mattias Sholl: The 2000 dominated the North American Hockey League, leading it in wins (29) and games (41). The Fairbanks mainstay posted a 1.99 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage, numbers that also were in the top eight in the NAHL, which named him All-League Second Team. The longtime Jr. King is a third-generation goalie, and older brother Tomas was one of the ECHL’s top stoppers this year.
Meet the rest of the team:
Patrick Pugliese: The 1999 was second only to Sholl in NAHL wins (24), and he did it with a .909 save percentage for New Jersey. The Niagara commit played for several clubs (Pasadena, LA Hockey, Ontario Stars, Anaheim Wildcats), but his final five in California were with the Jr. Ducks.
Aiden Hreschuk: The Boston College commit and former Jr. King had 24 points in 49 games for the U.S. National Team Development Program’s Under-17 team. The 2003 is the youngest player on this team by 17 days.
Colton Huard: A Chicago teammate of Brisson’s, the former Jr. Duck and 2000 had 14 points in 40 games.
Noah Kim: The 2000 found a home with Okotoks and lit up the Alberta Junior Hockey League with 56 points in 58 games, including 14 goals. The Air Force commit and longtime Jr. King finished second in the AJHL in defenseman scoring.
Aidan Metcalfe: The 2000, who played for the Jr. Kings and the Wildcats, had 23 points in 43 games for Shreveport (NAHL).
Ty Murchison: Another former Jr. King, the 2003 was a lineup regular for the NTDP
Luc Salem: The 1999 finished his junior career by finishing fifth in the NAHL in defenseman scoring (36 points) for Maine. A St. Lawrence commit, he played for the Jr. Kings, Jr. Gulls, Titans and Jr. Ducks.
Hunter Sansbury: A 2000, the former Jr. Ducks and Jr. Kings defender posted a career-best 24 points for Salmon Arm of the British Columbia Hockey League.
Kaelan Taylor: The steady 1999, a former San Diego Jr. Gull and Jr. King who has committed to RPI, wore an “A” for Dubuque, one of the USHL’s top teams.
Brian Adams: A San Jose Jr. Sharks product, Adams capped his junior career by scoring 40 points (21 goals) for Wenatchee (BCHL) and committing to Air Force.
Joey Cassetti: The former Jr. Shark left Merrimack College and returned to Waterloo (USHL), where he had 19 points in only 22 games. He plans to return to college hockey at Miami.
Clayton Cosentino: The 2000 and former Santa Clara Blackhawk had 31 points (15 goals) for Aberdeen (NAHL) and committed to Air Force.
Josh Groll: A trade to Lincoln (USHL) last summer agreed with the 2001, who played for the Jr. Gulls and Jr. Ducks. The Michigan commit had 42 points in 41 games for the Stars and played in the World Jr. A Challenge with Brisson.
Cooper Haar: The former LA Select, Jr. King and Jr. Duck finished his four-year junior career with a flourish. A ’99, had posted 40 points in 36 games after being traded to Aberdeen (NAHL). Committed to Canisius.
Ivan Lodnia: The 1999, a 2017 second-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild, made his final season in the Ontario Hockey League his best as the longtime KHS player had 62 points and 27 goals in just 41 games. Both numbers were among the top 50 in the OHL.
Daylon Mannon: A Fresno native who played for the Titans and Jr. Kings, Mannon lit up the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League to the tune of 85 points and 38 goals in 62 games for La Ronge. He also wore an “A.”
Jackson Niedermayer: The 2001 returned to health after an injury wrecked his first junior season and scored 25 goals among his 51 points for Penticton of the BCHL. The longtime Jr. Duck is an Arizona State commit.
Jonathan Panisa: A Jr. Ducks 2001 teammate of Niedermayer’s, the UMass commit found his groove with Springfield (NAHL), scoring 29 points in just 35 games.
Casey Rhodes: The 1999, who played for the Jr. Ducks and Jr. Kings, was better than a point-per-game player for Jersey (NCDC). His 46 points included 35 assists.
Brett Roloson: A late 2000, the former Jr. Duck amassed 42 points in 52 games for two BCHL teams.
Henri Schreifels: The power forward had 25 goals among his 47 points for Victoria (BCHL). A 2000, the former Jr. Duck, Jr. King and Titan committed to RPI.
Brayden Watts: The Bakersfield product, a ’99, finished his fifth season in the WHL by scoring a point per game. His 61 points included 29 goals and he was an alternate captain for Prince Albert.
There are several players who spent limited amounts of time playing for California youth organizations who had impressive seasons.
Forward Tanner Kelly: The former Jr. Gulls and Jr. Ducks player is a San Diego native who relocated to the Detroit area after Pee Wees. A Michigan State commit, he had 15 points for Muskegon (USHL) as a 17-year-old.
Forward Nick Robertson: A second-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019, Robertson was born in Arcadia and played for Pasadena before going to Michigan. The Peterborough sniper led the OHL with 55 goals and his 86 points were 10th. Older brother Jason made his Dallas Stars debut this season.
Defenseman Luke Robinson: The 2000 played a season of 16U for the Jr. Sharks after growing up in Tennessee. Like Taylor, he wore an “A” at Dubuque, and he will join Kim at Air Force.
Photos/Wolf/Connor Zary/Everett Silvertips; Brisson/Dan Hickling/Hickling Images; Sholl/NAHL
— Compiled by Chris Bayee
(July 20, 2020)