When it comes to hockey, Chase Wheatcroft has always looked up to his father Jim. The elder Wheatcroft played with for WHL’S Lethbridge Hurricanes from 1987-1989. He also played for the Calgary Canucks of the Albeta Junior Hockey League in 1985-86.
Chase played for the Hurricanes last season and as a rookie he put up some decent numbers, scoring seven goals and added 22 assists in 59 games.
This year the younger Wheatcroft is going to start the year with the Canucks.
He says playing for both of the teams his dad played for is a pretty cool thing.
“Growing up I had stuff in my room from the Canucks and from the Hurricanes," Wheatcroft said. "So to be able to go two for two for the teams he played with is a pretty cool experience that’s for sure.”
The reason Chase is starting the year with the Canucks is because the WHL regular season isn’t scheduled to get underway until January 8.
The two leagues struck a deal to allow each AJHL team to sign WHL players and have them be on loan until the WHL begins its season. Each team can dress up to four WHL players a game, although most have only signed two players.
Wheatcroft says it’s been a long time since he’s been able to play and he’s grateful the Canucks signed him.
“It means a lot," he said. "The first two games that I played this weekend against Drumheller were weird. I hadn’t played for eight months.
“But being able to suit up for the Calgary Canucks and to be able to impact them is pretty awesome," he added. "I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be here.”
The other player the Canucks singed was Ben Zloty, a defenceman from the Winnipeg Ice.
Zloty says he hasn’t played for seven months and this is really going to help him prepare for the WHL season.
“Our season is starting in January now so it’s going to be good to get into game shape and be ready for the upcoming season," Zloty said.
The good thing for the Canucks is they’re actually familiar with both players. Wheatcroft and Zloty played a handful of games with the Canucks in the 2018-19 season. Head Coach Brad Moran says he expects the two WHLers to contribute.
“We knew what we were getting. We expect them to be a part of the team and work hard,” Moran told CTV.
“It’s not just to come in here and do your own thing and be casual and we were conscious of that," he said.
"The fact that we’ve had both of them here before helped reiterate what we were getting and where they’re going in their careers.”
The Canucks will play a pair of exhibition games against the Canmore Eagles this weekend. Moran says his players can hardly wait for November 13th. When they can play some meaningful games.