Cochrane product Tyler Wong made quite the first impression in his National Hockey League preseason debut and proved the bright lights of the big leagues weren’t going to cause him any stage fright.
Wong not only scored the first ever goal for the NHL’s newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, but also finished with a hat trick and an assist in their 9-4 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Sept. 17.
“It was unbelievable, just taking part in the organization’s first game was an honour. Going into the game, I was a little nervous but the veteran players were awesome. They kept me loose and told me to be confident and not to worry. Once the game started the nerves went away,” Wong said.
Wong is a long shot to make the Golden Knights’ opening night roster, but raised his profile considerably with his dynamic performance against the Canucks. The Golden Knights officials have been impressed with what the local has been able to do in training camp, as well as rookie scrimmages, which bodes well for Wong moving forward.
The former Bow Valley Timberwolves alumni signed a standard player contract with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL in May, which means he isn’t property of the Golden Knights until he signs an entry level contract with the team. The preseason is a way for the unsigned players to potentially earn an NHL contract.
“I think I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, playing hard and try to make a good impression on the coaches. Not worry about the future or anything, just worry about the moment,” he said.
The 21-year-old Wong recently finished his junior career in the spring when his Lethbridge Hurricanes bowed out of the WHL Eastern Conference Finals to the Regina Pats.
Last year was his best statistically after finishing with 51 goals and 109 points in 69 games – good for third in the western league scoring charts.
Wong played his entire junior career with Lethbridge, with a total of 317 regular season games registering 143 goals and 155 assists for a total of 298 points along with 224 penalty minutes and a plus-12 rating. Wong also collected a team-leading 24 points in 20 post-season games, helping the Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference Championship Series for the first time since 2008.
Wong won numerous awards over the duration of his time with the Hurricanes including being named the WHL’s Humanitarian of the Year for the past two seasons.
The Cochrane native appeared in three AHL games in 2015-16 with the Toronto Marlies on an amateur try out where he recorded one assist. He also attended the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rookie development camp, as well as main camp in 2016.