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This article was published 18/4/2016 (460 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s a strange feeling — going from being a dominant player to one who’s nervous each time he steps on the ice.
At just 15, Jett Woo is where most kids who play hockey only dream about. Drafted fourth overall in the 2015 Western Hockey League bantam draft by the Moose Jaw Warriors, Woo — whose Winnipeg Wild were bounced from the bantam playoffs earlier this month — is getting a chance to redeem himself on a grander stage.
Before the start of the WHL’s Eastern Conference semifinal, Woo was called up by the club who drafted him. His job? Play some minutes on defence with the Warriors and try to shut down a dominant Brandon Wheat Kings team surging toward a berth in the Memorial Cup.
It’s a daunting task for a player with less than 10 games under his belt at the junior level. But make no mistake, Woo, who models his game after fellow defenceman Shea Weber, is loving each and every second he sees on the ice.
"I was excited to get the call," said Woo, who grew up and learned to play hockey in St. Boniface. "Every game seems to be me getting a little nervous and a little excited."
Contributing to those emotions is a switch in the style of game he’s seeing, he said. The biggest change has been adapting to the size and pace of a game where some players are five years his senior.
"Everyone on the ice is pretty smart with the puck and fast with the puck, also the size of everyone else," said Woo, who stands 5-11 and weighs 199 pounds. "Obviously, you need to switch some things around and play the way the coaches want you to play. But I still play the game that got me drafted."
Even at 15, and not even in his official rookie season, Woo feels the pressure of being a high draft selection.
"I try to take it one step at a time but obviously I get a little nervous," he said, "I try to just play a team game, a structured game."
Helping Woo are guys like Brayden Point, a Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick and captain of the Warriors.
"I go to those guys all of the time," Woo said. "Pointer is captain of the team and he’s such a great leader. He’s great to talk to, not just about life things but about the game and billets and stuff like that. He’s a great guy to look up to."
Guiding Woo on the ice is ex-NHLer Tim Hunter, Moose Jaw’s head coach.
"He tells me to keep my feet moving and keep the puck moving and to keep my head on a swivel because there are guys out there that are going to try and make a name for you and send you back to where you came from," he said. "He’s looking out for the best for me. He’s a great coach."
Woo picked up his first career WHL point this past Tuesday, assisting on a goal in a 7-1 Warriors win over the Wheat Kings.