WSHL’s Thunderbirds bringing local talent to Vegas for inaugural ’19-20 season
When the Las Vegas Thunderbirds take the ice this fall for their inaugural season in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL), the team will do so with a number of local players on the roster.
Entering September, the Thunderbirds had signed forwards Darion Conaway, Caleb Day and Joe Terrana and J.J. Williamson, defensemen Sean Kedra, Caesar “Sammy” Redoble and Gabe Testa and goaltenders Rhett Bruckner and Blade Taylor.
Kedra played youth hockey for the Nevada Storm and last season, was a member of the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights 16U team that captured the USA Hockey Tier II national championship in April.
“Sean brings more depth to our defense,” Thunderbirds head coach Dave Hyrsky said. “Sean plays with a lot of heart and character and enjoys the physical part of the game. His skating is a great asset. We look forward to helping Sean round out his game and continue to develop as a player.”
Williamson was a teammate of Kedra’s last season.
“J.J.’s speed, tenacity and work ethic are what caught my eye,” said Hyrsky. “He’s a character kid that has quite an upside. We look forward to helping J.J. develop into a solid, two-way player, as well as preparing him for the college level.”
“Gabe is another experienced player who has grown to become a very useful asset to the Thunderbirds,” said Hyrsky. “We look forward to him playing on both sides of puck. He showed me good instincts on the offensive side and is responsible defensively. With some work, I feel he can be a leader for us.
“We will pay close attention to Gabe as we feel his skill can get him to the next level. With some guidance on when and where to take chances, he could be a real good junior and university player.”
Day played last season with the NA3HL’s Gillette Wild and is coming home this season.
“Having a year of junior under his belt always helps,” Hrysky said. “After watching Caleb in two showcases in Vegas, he has grown on me. He does the small things well, getting the puck in and out at the right spots, understands what the high forwards job is, cycles the puck well and knows who to pick up coming back into the ‘D’ zone.”
Redoble (pictured top) is a 2019 Desert Oasis High School graduate and Jr. Golden Knights alum who was at a recent Tri-City Storm (USHL) camp.
“He made good decisions with the puck, made a good first pass and seems to know his way in the ‘D’ zone,” said Hyrsky. “He played a responsible game and will definitely be an asset to our team.”
Conaway was at that same Tri-City camp.
Terrana skated for the Jr. Golden Knights last season and Hyrsky is excited to have him in the fold.
“I believe Joe’s best hockey is in front of him,” Hyrsky said. “Playing junior will bring out the best in him. With his skating ability and the fact he plays with an edge, he will bring another asset to our lineup.”
The two goalies will push each other for playing time.
“Blade is another young talent with good upside,” Hyrsky said. “Our eastern scout had a chance to see Blade play on a number of occasions and really liked his foot work, quick glove and his second effort.
“Rhett brings us experience in goal. He’s someone who has played at the junior level in our league (Las Vegas Storm) and has had some success.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Sept. 30, 2019)