By Ryan McCracken
Alberta Newspaper Group
Bow island’s Bodee Weiss refused to let a little bad news bring him down.
The local 15-year-old goaltender went overlooked at the Western Hockey League bantam draft in May, but used his frustration as fuel to further his quest to reach the major junior stage. After spending his summer in the gym and starting the season with a plus-.900 save percentage at Prairie Hockey Academy, Weiss’s efforts were rewarded by the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“I got a call during school and I couldn’t answer it so he left a voicemail. And it was Jason Ripplinger, the assistant GM of Moose Jaw,” said Weiss. “He just said that he wanted to talk to me after school so I called him back and he just said that he wanted to put me on their 50-player protected list, and to just keep working hard in school and off-ice.
“It was hard not to be picked in the bantam draft obviously, but it just gave me fuel to work even harder. I tried to focus my efforts in the gym to working on my strength and speed, and I just kept focusing on my development as a goalie to help me get to the next level. It just feels really good to be listed by Moose Jaw.”
After closing out last season with the South East Athletic Club’s bantam AAA Tigers, Weiss made the decision to move from Medicine Hat to Caronport, Sask. to further his career with PHA’s Elite 15s – though the 6-foot-1, 167-pound netminder insists he wouldn’t be where he is without the help of friends, family and former coaches in the Gas City.
“Probably one of my biggest influences has been Brayden Desjardins, who coached me in my bantam AA year. He’s just been a great role model for me,” said Weiss, who also played under Desjardins at the South Alberta Hockey Academy last year. “Having him as a coach and mentor was really good, just to help me through tough times. If I was feeling down he would pick me up. Even if I didn’t believe in myself he would be there to believe in me. I think he was a really big influence as well as my family.
“They’ve always been supporting me since Day 1. Always showing interest in what I want to do and never turning their back on me.”
Although he admits his bantam draft year didn’t go as well as he might have hoped, it wasn’t without its bright spots. Weiss put up one of his strongest weekends of the year at his hometown Hockey Hounds Bantam AAA Tournament, where he earned the SEAC scholarship award as his team’s top player at the event.
“It was really exciting. I was really honoured to receive it and I was kind of shocked when Bobby Fox, (Medicine Hat Tigers director of player personnel), called my name,” said Weiss, who posted an .879 save percentage over 17 games with SEAC last season. “I think it just gave me a little bit of fire to keep working. Unfortunately I didn’t have the best season but it just kept me determined, that there are people who think that I’m a good goalie. Just being listed by Moose Jaw too, that just gives me fire to keep going knowing people are watching.”
Weiss added he’s in good hands at PHA, as Warriors goaltending coach Matt Weninger has worked closely with the academy’s netminders – which may have helped get him on the WHL franchise’s radar.
“I think Prairie has done a good job of getting him out to work with us,” said Weiss. “Lots of the mental training and leadership stuff that they’ve been teaching and ingraining in our bodies, I just think everything they’re doing so far has really been an upgrade.”
Weiss added PHA teammate McKale Paul was also listed by the Warriors earlier this season. While it’s undeniably exciting news for them both, Weiss says he understands the road doesn’t get any easier from here – but he’s determined to conquer any obstacles that lie ahead.
“My hard work doesn’t stop now,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully get to that next level of signing with them and hopefully wearing the Warriors jersey one day.”