“It’s just kind of learning patterns,” he said. You have to take it step by step.”
And that is exactly how Wilcox has turned himself into one of the nation’s top freshman goalies and one of the Lightning’s most interesting and promising prospects.
Drafted 178th overall in 2011, the South St. Paul, Minn., native decided to play for Minnesota rather than stay in juniors, a stepping-stone approach to his career he believes is the best way to prepare for subsequent levels.
“I like to take each step of the process to make sure I’m ready to play,” Wilcox said. “Get a good base, good experience, get the confidence at each level and keep building.”
So far the plan is paying off.
“Tremendous athletic ability,” Johnson said. “Even when he misreads a play, he’s able to react back to the puck.”
“And he makes big saves, timely saves,” Lightning goaltenders coach Frantz Jean said. “That’s the X factor everybody is looking for.”
Wilcox said there is an argument that learning to solve Rubik’s Cube helps him on the ice.
“With doing that, you see ahead to the next move you have to make,” he said. “I can kind of see what’s going to happen ahead. I can see a guy coming in, if it’s going to be to the back door. I can make the move before it happens.”
“The same with school and stuff,” Wilcox added about majoring in sports management. “I like looking ahead and planning.”