A 15-year-old Victoria resident was chosen fifth overall in the WHL Prospects Draft Dec. 9 by the Red Deer Rebels.
Ollie Josephson currently plays centre for the U18 AAA South Island Royals and studies at the Spectrum Community School Hockey Academy. He is currently in the midst of a stand-out season, having helped Team BC earn gold in October’s WHL Cup and has been called up for five games with the Junior A Victoria Grizzlies.
“It was pretty crazy. I was watching with my family waiting for my name to come up,” said Josephson. “I was in shock when it happened.”
Josephson said being drafted like this has far exceeded his expectations, and meant his wish to be drafted by Red Deer has come true.
Speaking in an article posted on the Rebels website, associate general manager Shaun Sutter said selecting Josephson as their first-round pick meant they could cross off an item on their wish list, too.
“We believe that your best players have to be guys who set the tone and an example for other players. Ollie is a person and a player who is going to do that every day,” said Sutter. “He can play in any situation and make other players around him better.”
Josephson’s current GM Johann Cherry said it was easy to understand why the 6’1”, 175-pound forward would be ranked so highly in the draft. Having notched six goals and nine assists in just 10 games with the Royals this season, and one goal with the Grizzlies, Cherry said he is always trying to better himself and does not get phased shift to shift or game to game.
“Ollie is an extremely unique player and person,” Cherry said. “He is the type of player that every person wants on their team, not only because of his skill but his lead by example mentality and ability to maintain focus on the bigger picture.”
Ask the young player himself why he thinks he was chosen so quickly and he will begrudgingly admit his success at the WHL Cup and dedication to playing both offence and defence likely played a role, but he much more readily gives credit to the support and guidance he has received from the South Island Royals, Grizzlies and Rebels coaching staff instead.
While he isn’t yet sure when Red Deer will want him in their lineup, Josephson said he would be more than willing to start playing with them as soon as next season, as he is eager to start the next phase of his hockey career.
“You can’t just have one big goal, you have to have smaller goals to reach that goal,” he said. “The WHL is the best development league so that will help me a ton, and Red Deer is a great organization.”