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The Wright stuff: Canada calls for Langley teen
Canada Day will be extra special this year for Baylee Wright.
Wright leaves June 24 for France in preparation for the world junior (U18) inline hockey championships.
“It is pretty special,” he admitted.
“Not many people get to do it, it is a rare opportunity.”
The tournament runs June 30 to July 6 in Toulouse, France.
There are 17 teams in the competition and Canada is in a pool with Switzerland, Germany and Korea.
Wright attended a tryout in the beginning of May and three weeks later, found out he was one of the 11 players named to the roster.
“Playing for Canada is going to be different; you are representing all of your country, not just Langley.”
And Wright, who just recently turned 16, admits to being surprised he made the final cuts.
“I was pretty nervous because there were a lot of older kids,” he said. “I (think) I was the youngest one there.”
The Canadian coaches admit Wright’s inclusion on the team is partly due to the bigger picture.
“As a younger player, we are also hoping Baylee learns a lot from the older players and can come back next year even stronger,” said Thomas Woods, who is the co-head coach along with Andrew Rhodes.
That’s not to say Wright didn’t earn his spot on the squad.
“Baylee brings skill, patience and knowledge of the inline hockey game to the team,” Woods said.
“We are going to be relying on Baylee to be able to control the play and bring back the puck when needed.”
Wright describes himself as an offence-first player, laughing that he is “not too defensive.”
He credits quick hands and vision, which allows him to see the play develop in front of him as key factors to his success.
And as a smaller player — Wright is five-foot-seven and 125 pounds — the fact that inline hockey is four-on-four allows more space to operate.
Size wasn’t an issue from what the coaches saw during tryouts.
“I think the main thing was confidence with the puck and hockey smarts,” Woods said.
“We thought Baylee showed a good ability to be a two-way player and he definitely didn’t back down to some of the bigger players.”
He was on the coaching staff’s radar thanks to one of Wright’s coaches, Langley’s Kirk French, who is a teammate of Woods on the Canadian senior men’s national team.
“Kirk just told me that I needed to give Baylee a good look because he is a very smart players,” Woods said.
Wright also plays ice hockey, but prefers the inline version.
“It is a lot more free and you can stickhandle with the puck a lot more, you can have it on your stick a lot longer,” he explained.
Wright enters Grade 11 at Walnut Grove in September.
He said his goal is to one day play on the senior men’s national inline team.