Dustin Wolf has spent part of his time in coronavirus lockdown getting a feel for how the other half lives.
The Everett Silvertips goaltender has been able to play a little roller hockey, but when he’s on wheels rather than blades he eschews his goalie pads for a goal-scoring role.
“I’m definitely not a goaltender in roller,” said Wolf, who described his shot as an Alex Ovechkin-like grip-and-rip technique. “I’ve got to try and snipe some corners when I can, I don’t get that opportunity very often.”
While Wolf has had some fun in his free time scoring goals, on Tuesday he was recognized for his exploits in preventing them.
Wolf was honored by the WHL when he was awarded the Del Wilson Trophy as the league’s Goaltender of the Year.
“It’s definitely pretty awesome,” Wolf said. “Coming off last season, where I was just a hair short, I wanted to put myself in a good spot to have another shot at it. Over the course of the season things turned out the right way, so a day like today is pretty satisfying to have.”
Wolf, a California native who now resides in Lake Stevens, is coming off a stellar 18-year-old campaign in which he dominated the WHL’s goaltending statistical categories. He finished first in the league in goals-against average (1.88), save percentage (.935) and shutouts (nine) while tying with Portland’s Joel Hofer for first in wins (34). He played a crucial role in Everett finishing 46-13-3-1 and being on track to pass Portland for the league’s best record when the season ended prematurely.
Wolf, the Western Conference nominee for the award, beat out Brandon’s Jiri Patera, who was the Eastern Conference nominee. Wolf was also a finalist for the award last year, but lost out to Prince Albert’s Ian Scott.
This was Wolf’s second major WHL trophy. Last year he won the Doc Seaman Trophy as the league’s Scholastic Player of the Year.
“I thought he had a really good season,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said. “He was just really calm — not that he hasn’t been calm other times, but he’s not a player you have to get on and make sure he’s doing his work. If anything, I had to pull the reins a few times, get him out of the rink to relax and take a mental day. We developed a good rapport in terms of where he was with his energy levels. Last year he’d play three-in-three without question, but he matured in giving honest assessments.
“At the end of the day he gives confidence to the team in front of him,” Williams continued. “They’re able to play a little looser because if you make a mistake and turn the puck over at the blue line in a risk-reward play, you know Dustin is back there and will probably keep the puck out of the net.”
Wolf’s victory continued Everett’s recent domination of the award. Carter Hart won the trophy every year from 2016-18.
It also continued what’s been a banner May for Wolf. At the beginning of the month he signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL draft.
Yet the intersection of major hockey milestones with the coronavirus pandemic has made for an odd juxtaposition.
“Your options for offseason preparations are limited,” Wolf said. “There’s no ice and no gyms. I have this slide board I’ve used, that’s the closest I can get to ice. I’m just trying to get myself in better shape than I have in the past. I’ve been able to work out at a buddy’s house where they have some workout equipment. It’s just finding ways to utilize time and get better in different areas of life. You can’t get a ton better at hockey right now, so I try and utilize the time for other things.”
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) May 1, 2020
Wolf becomes the WHL nominee for the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award, where he’s up against Nico Daws of the OHL’s Guelph Storm and Kevin Mandolese of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. The award will be announced on a date yet to be determined.
Tips sign forward
The Silvertips have signed undrafted forward Ryan Hofer to a WHL standard player agreement. Hofer, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, who is entering his 18-year-old season, is the younger brother of Portland Winterhawks goaltender Joel Hofer. Last season he had 26 goals and 25 assists in 35 games for the Pursuit of Excellence midget prep team.