San Jose native Wolford follows zigzag road to Brooklyn, USPHL
Egan Wolford is only 20 years old, but it seems like he’s already seen and experienced more than some octogenarians out there.
How many people can say they rode their bikes from their California house to an NHL arena, before relocating to Saskatchewan and coaching First Nation Canadian children, and then a year later, experience the ringing bells of Wall Street and hustle and bustle of Brooklyn life?
It’s all been part of Wolford’s world.
Before he almost certainly moves on to the NCAA Division III hockey realm next year, Wolford hopes to add a junior hockey championship in the USPHL Premier Division with the New York Aviators to his impressive resume of life experiences.
“Honestly, I don’t think any team can beat us – we can only beat ourselves,” said Wolford, a defenseman for the Aviators, who were in fourth place overall in the 51-team league in early February. “Nobody can beat us when we move our feet. We’re one of the fastest teams in the league. We’re also the hardest-working team. We’ve bonded, we play like brothers, we go to war together every night.”
Wolford was born in 1998 in San Jose. Now, when he says he’s from San Jose, he doesn’t mean he’s from Campbell or Alum Rock or Milpitas.
He means San Jose.
“It was probably one of the best places to grow up. I lived a mile from the rink (today’s Solar4America Ice), and our family would ride our bikes to Sharks games,” said Wolford. “It’s such a nice area, a very pedestrian-friendly city. My friends and I would go around the city, riding our bikes or skateboarding.”
Another California pastime, rollerblading, also appealed to Wolford and he actually started his hockey career on wheels.
“My dad tried to teach all the neighborhood kids hockey and he signed me up for roller hockey, which I played until I was 12,” said Wolford. “I definitely think it helped me. Roller hockey is very fast-paced, with lot of skill. It helped me in terms of being able to read the play and use my hands. It’s flowing. We have a lot of Europeans on the Aviators, who play a different style of hockey, and I’m able to keep up with them.”
After one year with Albany Academy, Wolford was looking to get his junior career underway.
His brother Coalson, an ‘01, was recruited by the Notre Dame Academy Hounds in Wilcox, Sask., to play for their Midget program. Egan made the trip with his brother to the open plains of Saskatchewan and figured he’d try out for the Hounds’ junior team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and see what happened.
“I enrolled in school at Notre Dame, tried out for the junior team and made it,” said Wolford. “Clint Mylymok – who’s originally from Long Beach – was my coach and he helped me out on the ice with my footwork. Travis McEwen did a lot of video work with me that was also a huge help.”
His next step, however, came via a trade. He was sent to the La Ronge Ice Wolves, also in the SJHL. Find Saskatoon on a map and look about 250 miles north of there, in the lake-dotted northern woodlands of the province.
“There are about 2000 people in La Ronge, and I loved that town,” said Wolford. “It was such a different culture. I worked with a lot of First Nations people there, and I even coached the Pee Wee team in the town there. It was a cool experience. I don’t know how many kids from California can say they lived that far north in Canada.”
For his final junior season, however, he was looking for more exposure, so he made the trip thousands of miles to the south and east. His journey took him from small-town Canada to the United States’ biggest city, New York.
“I was cut at preseason from an NCDC team, and I got a call from the Aviators coach Mike Stanaway, and he laid out the details about the Aviators,” said Wolford. “They’re about a lot more than hockey. The GM Jon Dreher works on Wall Street, and he brought me and a couple guys with him to work and we got to see Wall Street and the traders on the floor. There are not a lot of programs that could offer that.”
He has gotten the college attention he was looking for, and said he’s had talks with “a couple Division III schools,” but is “still looking to see what happens the rest of the season.”
Photo/Stephen Spencer/Action Photography
— Joshua Boyd/USPHL.com
(March 6, 2019)