The Oxford Dictionary defines exceptional as unusually good or outstanding.
For 15-year-old Shane Wright, the 2019-20 Ontario Hockey League season will be an opportunity to prove that he is just that.
To earn exceptional status and the opportunity to be eligible for the OHL Priority Selection a year early is no easy task.
Players who choose to apply go through a process that includes a player essay, teacher questionnaire, and coach questionnaire on top of evaluating his talents on the ice. A psychologist also does a life interview with player and parents as part of the process. To say it’s thorough would be an understatement.
For Wright, the toughest part of the process was the waiting.
After submitting paperwork by the required Dec. 1 deadline, the official announcement of Wright’s status was made on Friday.
Having been involved in the process since 2005, Ontario Hockey Federation Executive Director Phillip McKee said Wright is "well deserving" of being granted the opportunity, citing his "constant success both in the classroom and on the ice."
On the ice, Wright had a big year for the Don Mills Flyers minor midget team with 66 goals and 150 points in 72 games and also played for Team Ontario at the 2019 Canada Winter Games where he scored six goals and 12 points in six games.
"The best part of my game is definitely my hockey sense," Wright said. "I feel like I can think the game really well and find my teammates really well.
"I’m a pretty competitive guy on and off the ice," Wright added.
For a player who put up big numbers, Wright still feels like there are improvements to be made as he makes the jump to major junior.
"I feel like my shot and my finishing ability are definitely things I can improve on," Wright said. "That’s something I’m definitely going to take to heart this summer to work on."
The OHL Priority Selection is set for April 6.
Heading into the final week of action, the Kingston Frontenacs currently sit last in the standings, four points behind the Flint Firebirds. Both teams have three games remaining in regular season action.
Huskies tie record
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies saw its 25-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday in a 2-1 loss to the Drummondville Voltiguers.
The team tied a record shared by the Quebec League’s Sorel Epeviers (1973-74) and Ontario League’s Kitchener Rangers (1983-84).
The Huskies winning streak began on Jan. 3 and helped the team set a new franchise best for wins.
Following weekend action, the team sits atop the QMJHL standings with a 56-8-0-1 record.
With 134 goals against and three games remaining in the regular season, the Huskies also look poised to set a QMJHL record for fewest goals against. The Moncton Wildcats currently hold the record after surrendering just 149 goals in the 2008-09 season.
The Huskies wrap up the QMJHL regular season this week with home games against the Val-d’Or Foreurs on Wednesday, the Gatineau Olympiques on Friday and the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on Saturday.
Winning ways in Red Deer
Brent Sutter became part of an exclusive list over the weekend.
General manager and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, an organization he also owns, Sutter picked up his 500th win as a Western Hockey League head coach on Saturday as the Rebels beat the Kootenay ICE 8-4.
Sutter took over the Rebels in 1999 and has coached well over 900 games with the team since then.
Sutter’s 80 playoff wins with the Rebels is tied for fourth all-time.