One season after moving West to play for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, Garrett Wright will make a more drastic relocation next season.
The Midget 16U AAA forward, who was a key part of his team’s run to the semifinals at the USA Hockey Nationals, has signed with the Regina Pats of the major junior Western Hockey League (WHL).
“He’s going to a great league and they’re big on development,” said 16U AAA co-coach Craig Johnson, who also is the Jr. Ducks’ director of coaches. “We’re excited for him and the path he’s chosen, and we feel he’s going to do great things.”
Wright, who played two games with the Central Illinois Flyers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) earlier this season, said his decision was aided by his comfort with Regina, its style of play and its reputation for continuing the development of players. He said his season with the Jr. Ducks was crucial to helping him on his development path.
“The Jr. Ducks helped me tremendously,” said Wright, a 2001 birth year who is from Mesa, Ariz. “Craig and (co-coach) Alex (Kim) were excellent coaches who did a great job getting us to buy into their system.
“My year here will help me adjust to juniors because both teams are known for playing fast and thriving on the transition game.”
Wright, whose father Jason played in the USHL and collegiately at Michigan Tech, had 17 goals among his 29 points in 32 games in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League and added 10 more points (six goals) in 11 CAHA games. The younger Wright added three more points in five games at Nationals, giving him 42 points (25 goals) in 48 games.
But his game encompasses much more than goal scoring.
““He can play in all situations and anywhere you need at forward, whether center or wing,” Johnson said. “He competes really hard and has a strong work ethic. He’s one of those kids who is always a team player and gets along with everyone.
“With his frame (6-foot-1, 176 pounds) and skill, the upside where his game could go is considerable. I’m sure he’ll fit right in in Regina.”
Wright said the Pats first reached out to his advisor when he played in Phoenix and again during the Tier 1 league playoffs in Blaine, Minn., this spring. By signing with the major junior team he forfeits his NCAA eligibility.
Kim, who is the Jr. Ducks’ director of player personnel, said Wright’s ability to adapt to a new environment and his work ethic stood out.
“He was willing to make a big sacrifice and leave home for a year to continue his development with us,” Kim said. “We were glad we could help with some of his development.
“He’s a great kid who always worked hard and was very reliable.
“We’re glad he could be part of our program, and we want to wish him the best of luck in the WHL. We know he’ll do well.”