Cochranite chasing 50-goal season
Monday, Mar 13, 2017 06:00 am
With just five games remaining in the Western Hockey League (WHL) regular season, Cochrane’s Tyler Wong finds himself closing in on one of the most sought after pinnacles in any player’s career – 50 goals in a season.
On March 8, Wong scored his 49th goal of the season during his Lethbridge Hurricanes’ 2-1 overtime victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. Although he is now just one goal shy of an illustrious milestone, Wong said his primary focus is making sure his team wins its games as the Hurricanes gear up for another run at the WHL playoffs.
“To be able to hit 50 goals is a big honour. I feel extremely blessed to be anywhere near there,” Wong said. “It’s a milestone...It’s definitely going to be a cool moment when I hit 50.”
Since making the Hurricanes roster full-time in the 2012-13 campaign as a 16-year-old, Wong has seen six other players reach the 50-goal mark in a season, but Wong is on the verge of being the first person to do so this season, sitting two goals ahead of the other players closing in on 50 goals.
Wong added as nice as it would be to score 50 goals in a season, there is more he wants to achieve.
“I’m focused on getting the team ready for the playoffs,” Wong said. “Breaking 50 was not at the top of my to-do list.”
As the 25th captain in the Hurricanes history, Wong led his team to the WHL post-season for the first time in an eight-year span last season. Coming into this season, expectations were high for the Hurricanes to not only return to the playoffs, but also to be a competitive team.
The Hurricanes’ playoff run didn’t last as long as the team had hoped as it was knocked off by the Regina Pats in five games. The team entered the series as the Central Division champions and had home ice advantage but couldn’t bounce back against the wild card team.
Wong said being ousted in the first round of the post-season last year will help motivate his team to bounce back in difficult situations.
“Last year we exceeded all expectations and had a great regular season and had a rough go in the playoffs,” Wong said.
“For a lot of the guys who are still here from last season, that experience is going to be huge for us this year.”
Expectations are even higher for the Hurricanes this season as it closes in on its second division in as many seasons. The Hurricanes currently sit second in the Central Division, just two points, behind the division-leading Medicine Hat Tigers.
As of press time, both the Hurricanes and Tigers have five games remaining, but will face off against one another two more times before the end of the regular season.
“With the way we’ve been playing (a division championship) is definitely our goal,” Wong said. “Our goal is to win the next five, but take it one game at a time.
“We’re ready, we’ve been playing our best hockey for a while and I’m excited to see how this team does in the playoffs.”
For the 21-year-old, these final regular season games and last push to the post-season is a bittersweet moment. His five-year tenure with the Hurricanes will come to an end following the playoffs as he and two other 1996-born players on the team will age-out of the WHL.
“It’s going to be sad. Lethbridge has been like a second home to me,” Wong said. “It’s been an awesome five years. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“I always try to play every game like it’s my last and even right now that’s how it feels.”
Even though he knows his time in Lethbridge is coming to an end, the Cochranite is excited to lead his team to the post-season one last time and has the ultimate goal in mind for himself and his team.
“We want to win the Memorial Cup – that’s our goal,” Wong said. “Anything else is a disappointment.”