Wyatt Danyleyko’s journey in pursuit of a professional hockey has taken a major stride forward.
The 14-year-old Sooke resident was recently selected by the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Royals in this year’s bantam draft.
“It was a bit of a surprise when a teammate told me during class that I got picked up by the Royals,” Danyleyko said in an interview with the Sooke News Mirror. “I plan to pursue hockey as far as it takes me, so it’s a major opportunity.”
When asked what he believes are the attributes that earned him a spot in the draft, Danyleyko said he takes a lot of pride in his 200-foot game.
“I try to bring a high level of competition to the offensive and defensive sides of the game,” he said.
Ed Fowler, director of player personnel for the Victoria Royals, said several aspects of Danyleyko’s game impressed the organization.
“With all of these players, we’re trying to project what they might do when they’re 18,” Fowler said. “Wyatt’s a hardworking two-way player, which we ask all of our players to be once they arrive in Victoria. He competes hard and works hard when he’s away from the puck, which you don’t see in a lot of young players. He looks like a team player who’s always working hard to get back on defence. He’s also a point-a-game guy with decent hands, a long, lanky kid who skates pretty well.”
Projecting forward, Fowler said the organization will look for improvements in Danyleyko’s quickness and acceleration.
“We (also) talked to other players and coaches to find out about character,” Fowler said. “From everything we heard, he’s a good person, and that’s very important to us in Victoria. It’s very difficult to assess kids at such a young age, but it looks like Wyatt could be an effective player in our league once he physically matures.”
The six ft. one in., 151 lb. centre taken in the sixth round, 123rd overall, started playing hockey when he was four. He played in Sooke until peewee before moving on to play for the the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies. Danyleyko is currently a member of the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy based in Langford and attends the West Shore Centre for Learning and Training.
“All of the coaches and staff are first-rate,” he said regarding the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy. “Everyone’s very supportive and they all have the players’ backs.”
That comfort level will change dramatically in September when Danyleyko heads the Interior to play with the Penticton Hockey Academy.
“Being away from home for the first time is going to be a little nerve wracking,” he admitted. “ it’s an important step in my development as a player, and I’m fortunate to have a good support network.”
Danyleyko credits all of his coaches at every level for his success, adding that his parents and grandparents, Chris and Christina Shewn, have played prominent roles in his development.
He lists Cole Caufield of the Montreal Canadiens as his favourite player on his favourite team, adding that passion for Montreal has been passed down to him from his father, a lifelong Habs fan.