Prince Albert, SK – A year ago, Ozzy Wiesblatt joined his family – save for his two older brothers – at a family friend’s house to watch the WHL Bantam Draft on TV.
As the names passed, the 5’9, 175-lb forward from Calgary saw his name get called by the Raiders with the third pick in the second round of the draft.
“Once I got drafted, it was probably easily the best moment of my life,” said Wiesblatt.
Getting picked in the draft was something he had always dreamt of, he added. And while it was a big relief to see his name on the board, he knew it wasn’t the end of the process.
“Once you get drafted, that’s when the real hard work starts,” he explained. “Just because you get drafted doesn’t mean you’re on the team or anything. My first initial thought was the hard work starts now and I’ve got to earn it.”
The work continued for Wiesblatt with the Calgary Buffaloes in the AMHL. In 33 games, he scored 21 goals and added 20 assists to finish eighth overall in league scoring.
Over the course of the season, he noted his mental game and speed were two of his skills that improved the most.
“Just because I have a bad shift or something, that doesn’t affect me the next shift. If anything, it motivates me to do better the next shift. Even just my speed. I think nowadays you’ve got to be fast and I think that’s something I really improved on so far.”
Wiesblatt was also one of three Raiders picked in last May’s draft to make their WHL debuts in their hometowns when he suited up against the Hitmen at the Scotiabank Saddledome. He got the call regarding his debut the night before when he was in Edmonton taking in an Oilers game.
“Playing at the Saddledome where I grew up watching all of my hockey and always (hoping) someday I’d play there and it finally happened.”
Heading into the game, Wiesblatt was feeling nervous excitement, but was welcome with open arms into the locker room. After taking some time to get the jitters out in the first period, he started to feel comfortable and began to think he could make an impact on the game.
And he did. Wiesblatt tallied his first career goal when he slid a shot through Nick Schneider at the 3:42 mark of the third.
“Going into the game, I wasn’t expecting to score, that’s for sure,” he said. “I think right when I scored I blacked out a little bit. I didn’t know what was happening. That was a really good feeling.”
As his year is now in the off-season, Wiesblatt is already preparing for next year with the goal of making the jump to the WHL. His off-season goals are to get stronger and faster to make that jump more successful.
And with this year’s WHL Bantam Draft coming up, Wiesblatt’s message to this year’s crop of draft picks was to not overthink it.
“Once you get to go there and meet everyone, it’s amazing,” Wiesblatt said. “The fans there are second to none and they treat you like part of the family. It’s unreal. I’m really happy where I ended up and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
The 2018 WHL Bantam Draft will be held on Thursday in Red Deer, AB. The draft begins at 8:30 a.m. and can be streamed on WHL.ca.
Prince Albert Raiders season tickets for the 2018-19 campaign are available for purchase. Visit the Raider Office or call 306-764-5348 for more information.
Also coming up at the Art Hauser Centre is the Clunie-Cooper Memorial PBR on Friday and Saturday night. Tickets start at $30 per person per night and include a pre- and post-show cabaret. Pick up your tickets at the Raider Office or by calling 306-764-5348.