CALGARY – When the fall falls on the Czech Republic for the 2020 World Junior World Championship Championship on Boxing Day, the Calgary Flames will have only one representative at the event. This lone player: 18-year-old Dustin Wolf. The American goalkeeper was one of the last picks at the 2019 NHL Draft and became one of the Flames’ and NHL’s top prospects.
Originally from Tustin, California, an Orange County suburb on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Wolf starred in the local championships as a teenager. He went off the coast in 2017 to join the Everett Silvertips of Western League Hockey as Carter Hart’s understudy.
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Now in his third season at the WHL and second as Everett’s starter, Wolf has emerged as one of the top WHL artists. Heading into the holiday break, he is among the leaders in wins (17), shutouts (5), save percentage (.941) and goals – on average (1.91) across Canadian junior hockey. With the push of the year plan off, the backstop allows himself to focus on hockey.
“Just being able to play and play now, without having to worry about what people think of you, (you’re) just going there and playing your game,” Wolf told Sporting News after a recent win over Calgary Hitmen. “When you come out with a win there is an advantage to it. We have a great team now and we hope to continue what we are going for.”
Six months ago, Wolf was one of the emotional stories of the plan.
Outstanding because of its numbers and Everett’s intense season, it slipped unexpectedly into the seventh round – the 214th overall and fourth from the end of the whole draft – and was still present at Rogers Arena in Vancouver for selection. The tears were running and there was a big smile, as chosen by the Flames, an organization whose captain is underperforming Mark Giordano and most virtual players include award-winning draft picks such as Theoren Fleury who took on a round that no longer exists. .
“Obviously I didn’t expect to stay until the last four options in the draft,” Wolf said. “But I could not ask for anything better than to come to Calgary. I have nothing but good to say about them and they have supported me through everything so far.
“It’s almost a dream come true and we have to do a lot of work, but one step in the right direction.”
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Wolf’s latest challenge is the upcoming World Junior Tournament. One of the three goalkeepers headed to the selection camp – along with Florida Panthers prospect Spencer Knight and Vegas Golden Knights prospect Isaiah Saville – Wolf hopes to make an impression and help the team win when traveling to the Czech Republic during the holidays .
“I want to go to the camp and show how much I’ve improved from the summer showcase and try to make a tough decision about who started it,” he said, agreeing that the established knight could take the lead for American starting job. “It’s obviously a first choice for a reason. Great guy, great finisher, but obviously you are fighting for a job and you want to play as many games as possible. Whatever it takes to win a gold medal, that’s what done. “
Needless to say, the Brass Flames are excited to see what Wolf can do on the international stage. For the first time since Johnny Gaudreau received gold in 2013, Red C’s can spend the festive season on red, white and blue.