For a lot of young hockey players getting the opportunity to play for Team Canada is a dream come true.
And for Red Deer Rebels goaltender Chase Wutzke he’s getting his first taste of what it’s like to play for your country at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The Debden, Sask. native has appeared in a pair of games for Team Canada Red and has posted a 2.03 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.
Wutzke said it has been a great experience in his young career.
“The hockey is really fast. It’s a really good challenge I like how the teams all know where each other is. It’s a really good way to get some good practice in before I try and make the junior team next year,” he said.
For Wutzke, this marks his first time between the pipes donning the red and white jersey and has been a dream of his since he started playing. Last July he received an invite to Team Canada training camp where he impressed the coaching staff and earned a spot.
“It’s been a dream to put on that maple leaf and get out and play for my country,” he said. “It was a huge honour. I was really happy to be able to play for my country.”
The tournament features seven teams, made up of some of the best players from across the world. Team Canada is split into three squads called white, red, and black to ensure more players could be showcased on the international stage.
“It’s awesome playing against some of the best in the world. It’s been a crazy level of skill here,” he added. “I think I’ve been pretty good in the two games I’ve played. I think that there definitely some improvement to do because there’s always room for improvement in your game but other than that I think I’ve played pretty well.”
He explained the coaching staff liked his competitive level and his ability to make a big save when it’s needed most.
Wutzke began the season on the Saskatoon Contacts U18 AAA team where he posted a 3.02 GAA and a .899 save percentage. Last season he played 33 games with the Contacts and finished with a 2.95 GAA and a .898 save percentage.
He was drafted by the Rebels 40th overall in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft and in three games with Red Deer last season he had a 4.70 GAA and a .849 save percentage. While the Saskatchewan product had a solid training camp with the Rebels he was reassigned to his team in Saskatoon prior to the start of the season.
He said some of the main points he took aback to Saskatchewan from his time in Red Deer were to pay attention to the minor details in his game and to keep trying to improve.
“I learned a lot from the coaching staff. Even the guys they kind of helped me through it and just taught me a lot of things about getting to that next step,” he said. “The experience here they treat you like you’re a pro and that’s the same way as Red Deer. It’s just going to help me get better and better throughout my hockey career.”