When Western Hockey League teams were putting together a check list of players they would be interested in drafting in the 2015 WHL’s Bantam Draft it should have been no surprise to see Josh Tarzwell’s name on it.
The Red Deer native has all the ingredients to be a solid WHL performer with talent, size, skating ability and a great mental outlook toward the game.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes thought so as they selected Tarzwell second overall in the second round.
Tarzwell, who was the top prospect out of Red Deer last season, attended the Hurricanes training camp this season, signed a education contract and played in an exhibition game.
“It was a great time,” said the six-foot, 190-pound 15-year old.
“My goal now is to make Lethbridge next season, but if I don’t then returning here would be awesome as well … it’s important to get playing time,” said Tarzwell, who is one of three 15-year-olds on the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs midget AAA squad.
Tarzwell saw a big difference between bantam and junior.
“I really noticed the size,” he said. “I was used to being one of the bigger guys, but there were a lot of guys bigger, but I got used to it as we went along.
“The big thing was I took it day-to-day and tried to get better as we went along.”
While Tarzwell has an excellent shot, it’s also one area he needs to work on … mainly getting the shot away quicker and with accuracy.
“We’re working in practice to get him to shoot more,” said Chiefs head coach Brandin Cote. “He communicated with us he realizes he has to learn to get his shot off quicker. There isn’t as much time and space here as there was in bantam and there’s even less with Lethbridge. We work with him to get the shot away quicker and finding the spots on the ice to shoot.”
Tarzwell grew up in Red Deer. He played some early hockey in Delburne before moving full time to Red Deer in novice.
He was drafted out of the bantam AAA program and skipped the minor midget AAA 15-year-old level jumping right to the midget AAA Chiefs.
“I was a bit nervous coming in as there were so many good players and Red Deer has such a good program,” he said. “But it seemed to work out. We have a great group of guys, who helped me reach the next level. They have the maturity on and off the ice.”
It was all the ingredients that the WHL teams saw in him that earned him a berth with the Chiefs.
“Josh has been really good for us,” said Cote. “To be 15 and playing at this level you have to be special. He competes and contributes. He has the size, talent, skating to play here and has smarts and the shot. He wants to learn and every practice and game he works to be better and improve.”
He got an opportunity to work on his game earlier this year when he helped Team Alberta win the Western Canadian U16 championship, downing Manitoba 3-0 in the gold medal game.
“I had one goal and one assist … I thought I had a good tournament. It was certainly a lot of fun and great experience. I got a taste of what it’s like outside of Alberta.”
Tarzwell has always looked at himself as someone who can play a physical game and a play maker.
He played centre coming into this season where Cote moved him to left wing. But he doesn’t mind.
“I played some defence in pee wee and some right wing as well. It’s good to know and feel comfortable in all the positions.”
Tarzwell will spend the season with the Chiefs , who are the top team in the Alberta Midget Hockey League. He will also get a chance to play in the Calgary Mac’s Christmas tournament. He also hopes to get a call from the Hurricanes this season.
“When I last talked with them they indicated they may call me up during the season, but I haven’t heard from them yet. Hopefully I get the call … it would be a great experience.”
Tarzwell admits he thinks about making the Hurricanes.
“Almost every day,” he said. “But all I can do is push myself to be better.”
Outside of the Hurricanes he would also like to get an opportunity to tryout for the Canadian U17 team.
“Hopefully this summer,” he concluded.