When the Ontario Hockey League’s 2019-20 season was cut short because of COVID-19 concerns, everybody adapted to a new routine. The same goes for Kingston Frotnenacs centreman Shane Wright, who returned home to Burlington, Ontario, but adjusted his routine in July when he was named to Hockey Canada’s U20 Summer Development Camp.
Rather than skating across the ice in Calgary, Alberta, Wright and other participants clicked through keys on Zoom, a video conferencing app, going through a range of online activities. Although the on-ice activities could not happen, Wright was honoured to be named to the group of players.
“Being named to the team is an honour, whether it’s virtual, or we actually go in and skate. Either way, it’s a prestigious group of guys, so it is pretty cool to be named to that team,” said Wright from his family’s home in Burlington.
Before starting camp, the 16-year-old had developed a summer routine. He would wake up, and workout in the mornings, before getting on with the rest of the day. However, his regular routine got a bit of a shakeup with the summer camp. “I had to wake up and get my lifts in a bit earlier,” said Wright, “After that, it [the camp] was about five hours a day, talking with the coaches, the therapists and going through team building activities.
Coming into camp, Wright did not know many of the other participants, but the team building activities changed that. “Those were definitely some of the highlights of the camp, I got to know some of the guys a bit better, and the coaches did a good job of getting us to open up.” He went on to explain how he has built relationships with some guys and is confident that some of the skills he learned can translate back in Kingston.
One of the things which Wright missed out on, was the chance to prove himself on the ice against some of the top U20 players in the world. Despite not getting that opportunity, the possibility of making Team Canada’s 2021 IIHF World Junior roster has crossed his mind.
“I think everybody there has a chance to make it,” said Wright, who’s 2004 birthday made him the youngest player invited. “The season and tournament are all a bit in question right now, but a strong start to our season in Kingston could help me reach that goal.”
Although participating in the 2021 IIHF World Junior tournament is potentially in the cards this winter, Wright has all his sights set on a strong campaign in the black and gold, and that’s something he has been preparing for through the extended offseason.
“For me, a big focus was to gain some weight and I have put on about 10 pounds and feel stronger now. It’s going to help my game, and I know that a year of experience is going to help me be better.”
The off-season is longer than anybody would have liked, however, it has only made him more excited to rejoin his teammates in Kingston under new Head Coach and General Manager, Paul McFarland.
“I think Paul is really going to help us out,” said Wright of his new bench boss. “We’ve already had a lot of contact, about the playstyle he wants and a bit of the strategy. He’s really big on compete level and team effort, and I think that’s something we’re going to have from the start.”
Although Wright was unable to be a part of the Hockey Canada Camp in person, the online sessions offered a change of pace, where he learned valuable skills that will help him and the rest of the team when they return to Kingston.