By Carmen Dittoe – Silvertips Staff Writer
Rookie seasons are unpredictable. The feeling of dispensability may loom, but the constant factor of growth leads to a bright future.
Dustin Wolf, 17, has been focused on the future since the day he arrived in Everett. He wasn’t sure what it held, but he hoped that it kept him a Silvertip—and he did everything in his power to fulfill that through the opportunities he was given.
“Wolfie had a great first year,” said head coach Dennis Williams. “He had some injury and adversity he needed to battle, but he did a great job in his first game back against Kamloops. That game started our winning jolt.”
The goalie said that, coming in, he was “just looking forward to learning from Carter [Hart] and was hoping the team would succeed.” He had no idea what the year had in store.
As if capturing a win in his league debut wasn’t exciting enough, the California native and product of the Los Angeles Junior Kings program went on to shut out Prince George in his first home game.
“My first win and first shut out were such a blast,” said Wolf. “I went into those games feeling excited and ready to just put my best foot forward. To pitch a shutout for my first home game was really something special.”
Over the course of the season, the goalie’s ‘best foot forward’ began to include daily routines and rituals that he learned from observing Hart. Although it might sound a bit over the top to live every single game day virtually the exact same way (eat the exact same meal everyday, lean your stick against the same spot on the wall everyday, listen to the same songs at the same time, etc.), Wolf said his routines are less of superstitions than they are guarantees.
“At the end of the day, you want to be able to say you did everything you could to prepare,” explained Wolf. “And if something goes wrong, you can pinpoint why. If I’m feeling out of touch or have a bad game but did the same routine as always, I can know that it wasn’t the fault of anything I did before I played.”
How far has that carried Dustin? He’s on the cusp of making Team USA’s roster for the upcoming Hlinka/Gretzky Cup, coming up in Alberta. He’s already gained recognition as a potential high pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
That being said, Wolf’s teammate and road trip roommate Gianni Fairbrother credits the goalie’s success to his actions that go beyond his pristine game-day routines.
“I was always impressed by his off-ice habits, especially while traveling; he was always studying or making the most of his time. With time and experience, Dustin will be a top goalie in this league. He is definitely focused on the future, and his actions show it,” said Fairbrother. The goaltender even had a compilation video made of every goal he gave up in the last year so he could pinpoint his own weaknesses and start to iron them out over the summer.
Wolf said that at the end of the day, he is just grateful that the coaches gave him the opportunity to play his game and help the team succeed.
“I want to be able to be the guy that my team can look at and say ‘he did his best—he gave us a chance to win,’” said Wolf.
He has big shoes to fill as Everett’s prospective starting goalie for the 2018-19 season, but there is no doubt that Dustin Wolf is ready to step up to the plate.