For most teenage hockey-loving boys, hearing their name called in the Western Hockey League’s bantam draft is something they dream about.
But for Langley’s Josh Williams, he did not actually hear his selection. Following the draft online before he went to school on Thursday (May 5) morning, Williams missed his name being announced as the Medicine Hat Tigers selected him in the first round, fifth overall.
“I didn’t even hear my name being called,” the 15-year-old said. “When he said ‘Langley, B.C.’, my mom screamed so loud I couldn’t hear my name.
“It feels amazing.”
And Williams selection was a historic one as well, as he became the highest-ever Langley Minor Hockey Association product. Goaltender Jordan Hollett previously held that distinction, having been selected 13th overall in the 2014 WHL bantam draft. Ryan Hollweg was the first overall selection in the 1999 draft, but was originally from California and moved to Langley for junior hockey.
Williams knew he had a good shot to go in the first round and didn’t know he was the top Langley pick ever until afterwards.
“It means a lot. Being the highest one ever out of Langley is a pretty good feeling,” he admitted.
“It is a big accomplishment and I have been looking forward to getting drafted to the WHL since I was a little kid.”
Williams is a six-foot-one, 178-pound power forward. “He’s got great wheels, great hands, a great shot,” said Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston. “He plays a physical, gritty game, he’s going to be a real good player for us. “His stats tell you that too, he put up big numbers.”
In 25 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s U15 bantam prep team, Williams had 35 goals and 59 points. He was the Canadian School Sport Hockey League most valuable player and top scorer.
“Josh competes hard and loves to score goals,” said Brad Rihela, Yale’s head coach. “Medicine Hat got a good one there. He can finish his checks and score goals.” The coach said Williams’ game progressed over the season. “He became more of a 200-foot player and improved his defence and his offence just took off accordingly,” Rihela added. “He was league MVP for a reason.”
This was Williams first year with the Abbotsford-based program and he said the academy played a big role in him getting drafted so high.
He played his minor hockey primarily with the Langley Minor Hockey Association.
Williams plans on playing for Yale’s U18 team next season as he readies himself physically to play major junior down the road.
“It is the best development league in the world and my end goal is to make it to the NHL,” he said.
“(The WHL) is the best league to get me there.”