Several factors played into the Briercrest College Clippers being the right fit for Castlegar Rebels captain Josh Wiens.
The big factor is that the Clippers play in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, in which programs have recruited from the Junior A and Major Junior level.
“I felt fortunate to have the chance to play there,” says Wiens, 20, adding he learned the Clippers have a really good program and coaches. “They have a good facility and it’s a Christian-based school. I’m excited to go to a school that shares my beliefs and it is closer to home (based in Caronport, Sask.) so it will be nice to see my family more.”
Growing up in Oak Lake, Man., Wiens likes the small town feel and smaller classes, which he believes will lead to success in earning a degree in physical therapy. Along with Briercrest’s values, Wiens is excited to meet his teammates, coaches, teachers and other students because they will challenge him to become a better person.
“I am excited to see him select Briercrest as his next step,” says Rebels coach-GM Carter Duffin, a Clippers alumnus. “I know his personal character and attitude will fit with the program that head coach Brad Cole is continuing to build. He will be able to rely on his personal strengths to continue to develop and become more successful for the Clippers and within the league.”
Wiens knows there are skills he can work on, however the Clippers like that the five-foot-10, 190 pound forward takes pride in the little details.
“They felt sometimes the qualities that make a good hockey player are the things that go unnoticed,” he says. “They feel this will make me effective if my offensive game is struggling and they like my character and leadership skills. They feel I have the right attitude and the commitment to get better.”
Playing in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has helped Wiens develop skills that were lacking, such as his offensive prowess and turning into a more complete player. Wiens capped off his minor hockey career with the Southwest Cougars U18AAA program with a career high 28 points in 48 points. Last season, Wiens had 10 goals and 39 points in 42 games with the Rebels. Having access to ice everyday has helped Wiens develop faster and he credited the Rebels coaching staff for the work done with him. He and Duffin have had many conversations on what Wiens could try and the Rebels coach was honest about areas that needed to improve. That feedback helped Wiens build confidence.
“Nick (Headrick, assistant coach) worked on the ice with me a lot to help me get better with certain skills. I found myself using those skills in games and it gave me more tools, making me a more creative player.
“I think the KIJHL is an underrated league,” added Wiens, who got his first taste of junior hockey at 17 as an affiliate player with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. “It is very close to some Junior A leagues in Canada and playing against good players and with good teammates made me a better player.”
Duffin says Wiens is a player who leads by example and attitude because of his exceptional work ethic and compete level. That validates why he has been the Rebels captain.
“I am very proud to see Josh earn the opportunity to advance to the ACAC,” says Duffin. “The Rebels mandate is to provide players with the best possible experience, and that includes doing everything we can to knock on doors and help prepare them for the next phase of their life and/or hockey career. In the past two and a half seasons since my arrival, this is now our seventh college commitment and advancing player, and we are excited about additional announcements in the near future.”