Having to sit out a significant portion of your team’s games due to injury is bad enough, but having to do so when your club is absolutely tearing up the league it plays in?
That’s a whole lot harder.
But that was the case recently for Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Jett Woo.
Sidelined with an injury for half of November and almost all of December, the 17-year-old Woo was forced to sit and watch as his Warriors team rocketed up the WHL standings, going 12-2-1-1 despite the absence of one of their top defenders.
“It was kind of a love-hate relationship a little,” Woo said. “It was good to see those guys working well…seeing the ice from a different perspective. At the same time, it kind of kills you, you want to be on the ice and help contribute to the team.”
Woo is a competitive, driven player, attributes that have played an essential role in getting him to where he is today.
Slotted 21st in Future Considerations’ Fall Ranking for the 2018 NHL Draft, he is a versatile blueliner that logs a lot of minutes for his club in all situations thanks to his quick feet, sturdy frame, soft hands and keen situational awareness.
While some may see Woo’s stats on the year, seven goals and 20 points in 26 games, and conclude that he’s a defender that leans to the offensive side of the game, the Winnipeg native says that the opposite is the case.
“Over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to work on my offense, but growing up I was always defense-first,” Woo said. “I still am that, but I’m trying to progress my game into a two-way defenseman that can see the ice well and skate out of danger.”
His skill set and drive to improve certainly haven’t gone unnoticed.
Woo has been a staple for Hockey Canada at international events over the past two seasons, captaining the Canada White squad at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, playing at the 2017 IIHF World U18 Championship as a 16-year-old.
“It’s an honour,” Woo said. “Every time you get to wear the Maple Leaf it’s always something that you cherish. Even if it’s just for six games or seven games, whatever it is, it’s always something that you look back at and remember as something good.”
Most recently, joining Canada for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament last August.
They took home gold.
“It’s obviously something that I’ll never forget,” he added. “It’s a memory that I got to share with the team, the staff, the coaches. (Former Moose Jaw teammate) Luka Burzan was on the team, it was awesome to share that with him. It was a great feeling.
“So far in my career it’s probably the best feeling I’ve had in hockey.”
Getting to spend so much time with an organization like Hockey Canada and its staff is something that’s certainly provided a huge boost to Woo’s individual development as a hockey player.
“I’ve learned everything from them, from little things like hydration, what you eat off the ice, sleep…they’ve helped me in that way,” he said.
Woo, too, will help Moose Jaw.
As if the Warriors weren’t a dangerous team already, getting a healthy Woo back only makes them even harder to beat.
Woo says that thoughts of the 2018 draft creep into his mind every now and again, but who has time to think about that right now where there are so many more games waiting to be won?
“Personally, keep playing my game, try to help my team as best as I can,” he said. “As a team, try to work our way as good as we can in the regular season and do well in the playoffs.
“And hopefully look down the road to the Memorial Cup.”