Wilson aims for big things with Huskies
Chelsea Wilson showed little interest in hockey when she first laced up the skates.
“She stood on the blue-line and had no interest,” recalled her mom, Connie.
“And then she got a really good coach, Ron Leroux, and that is where it took off.”
The sport stuck and the former ballet dancer traded in her slippers for skates and hasn’t looked back.
“Just how much fun I was having, I knew I wanted to keep playing everyday,” said Wilson.
A dozen years later after going through the ranks of the Langley Girls Ice Hockey Association and the 17-year-old is still going strong, securing herself a scholarship to the University of Saskatchewan for next season.
The Huskies are adding a rugged, complete forward who plays a 200-foot game and is more than capable of putting the puck into the back of the net.
“She plays in all situations and has a knack for producing timely scoring,” said Saskatchewan coach Steve Kook, in a press release announcing Wilson’s commitment to the Huskies program.
“A lot of midget players have a good grasp of the offensive side, but Chelsea plays a solid game in her own end and that combination is what attracted us to her.”
While some may shy away from physical play, when you have a pair of hockey-playing older brothers, toughness is usually a prerequisite.
Hockey was always a big part of the Wilsons’ lives, whether it was ice hockey, mini hockey in the basement or street hockey outside their Langley home.
“We would always play street hockey and they would shove me in net and fire away at me,” Wilson said, adding this was likely where she developed her toughness.
“If you wanted to play, you had to suck it up.”
Wilson has developed into one of the province’s top players, twice making the provincial U18 team. She dreams of one day playing for Team Canada.
Kook and the Huskies coaching staff first saw Wilson play at the U18 national championships with Team BC in 2013, and then saw her again this past winter at a tournament in Saskatchewan.
“We did not hesitate to offer Chelsea the opportunity to join us,” he said.
She has also excelled while playing for the Fraser Valley Phantom, a female midget AAA team made up of players from around the Lower Mainland.
Wilson had 14 goals and 11 assists this past season in 26 games for the Phantoms during the regular season.
She is set to graduate from Langley Secondary in June and deciding on joining the Huskies program was a long process as Wilson visited about 10 schools — including the campuses of Yale and Harvard — before deciding on Saskatchewan.
“Visiting the school and meeting everybody, it just felt like the right fit for me, making it an easy decision to call it my second home,” Wilson said.
Wilson will be missed by her former team, the Fraser Valley Phantom.
“She is just a great kid and a great asset to this program and is going to be greatly missed,” said Phantom head coach Dean Reed.
Reed has coached Wilson for the past three seasons, and the year before that, she was with the Fraser Valley midget AAA squad as an affiliate player.
Over the weekend, the Phantom represented B.C. in Ontario at the Esso Cup, the female national hockey championships.
Fraser Valley went 1-4 at the tournament with Wilson leading the team with three goals and finishing tied for the lead in points with five.
All three of her goals came in one game and was a glimpse of what Wilson brings to her team.
“She showed at nationals that she can be a dynamic player and she can elevate her game,” Reed said.
What makes her stand out is her great offensive instincts.
“Chelsea is one of the best shooters I have seen at this level,” the coach said.
As for succeeding at the university level, Reed knows she has what it takes.
“She has the skills and the background to put it all together,” he said, adding that like most players her age, she just needs the occasional push.