After 169 regular season games and 22 playoff appearances Moose Jaw’s Jaxsen Wiebe says goodbye to the Western Hockey League (WHL).
Wiebe played out his 20-year-old season with the Prince George Cougars, who lost out in the second round of the WHL playoffs to the Seattle Thunderbirds last week.
Now making his way back to Moose Jaw, Wiebe has had some time to reflect on the four years he played within the WHL.
“It all happens fast, and everyone tells you that, but you don’t believe it until you go through it yourself,” says Wiebe. “Looking back, it was a pretty good WHL career. It’s setting in, as it’s been a few days since the season ended. I got to spend that quality time with my teammates for the last couple of days and now I’m on my way home.”
Wiebe was part of a Cougars team that was able to get to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 16 years.
To be a part of that moment he says was pretty special.
“It was amazing to see the City of Prince George rally behind us as a group and the community was right into it with us,” adds Wiebe. “The crowds and the atmosphere in those last couple of playoff games were pretty electric. Their support helped a ton, and it was a good group to do it with.”
They were able to get past the Tri-City Americans in the first round with a 5-4 overtime win in Game 6 to punch their ticket to the Western Conference semi-finals.
“When we scored that goal, it was a loud crowd and brought us so much energy and excitement. That Game 6 was a pretty special night and the City of Prince George loved it.”
In 169 WHL regular season games, Wiebe registered 95 points (33G-62A), which was followed up by 13 points (5G-8A) in 22 career playoff games.
In 2017, Wiebe was drafted by the Nipawin Hawks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL. Prior to making the jump to the Rebels, Wiebe played 48 games in a Hawks uniform and surpassed 26 points in his rookie season.
In 2019-20, he joined Red Deer for 52 games scoring eight goals and adding seven assists. In a shortened COVID-19 season the next year, Wiebe had three points in 21 games.
The very next season he was traded to the Edmonton Oil Kings and was part of a team that won the WHL Championship and booked their ticket to the Memorial Cup in Saint John, NB, last June.
In late November, Wiebe was traded to Prince George to finish out his WHL career.
“You don’t know if you’re going to get looks from teams or not but it’s just about focusing on playing your game, competing for your teammates, and trying to win games. The outcome was pretty special, and it only drives the motivation heading into the off-season to develop your game even more.”
The next step for Wiebe is the National Hockey League (NHL), as he signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Anaheim Ducks in early March.
With the Ducks’ season complete along with their AHL affiliate the San Diego Gulls as well, Wiebe will be working this off-season to compete for an NHL roster spot next year.
“You work out for two hours a day and after that, you go skate to try and develop your on-ice skills like skating, stick handling, or your shot. Those are areas that everyone can improve in. To transition to the pros, you’re going to keep working to round out those skills for the rest of your career. That's what this off-season will entail for me.”
He will attend the Ducks development camp in July and depending on how he does there, he will either stay with the team or come back to Moose Jaw to keep honing his skills for training camp.
But before he thinks about that, he will take some time to decompress from the season and enjoy some time with his family and friends in Moose Jaw.
“It’s been quite a while since I’ve been home. To have some time to just relax and see all the family again. I have got quite a few texts asking when I’ll be home.”
Looking back, Wiebe summarized his WHL career in one word...resilient.
“If you have resilience, which a lot of guys I know have and have dealt with some adversity, it’s just resilience. That COVID year was a pretty tough year mentally for a lot of players and personally, it wasn't the best hockey season for me. I didn’t really know where I was going to be after that and dealing with injuries takes a tough toll on your mental state. If you can battle through that it only makes you stronger.”
Listen to the full interview between Wiebe and Discover Moose Jaw's Jay-D Haughton below: