Oiler fan favourite Harvard bound
Hockey: Okotoks forward Austin Wong commits to Ivy League School
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 06:00 am
Choosing the collegiate route over major junior has landed an Okotoks Oiler in the Ivy League.
Second-year forward Austin Wong had a chance to play for the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes where his older brother Tyler starred for five seasons, but opted instead to pursue NCAA hockey as the first Oiler to earn a scholarship to Harvard University.
“Both options are definitely pretty awesome and it’s an honour to have the option really,” he said. “I chose NCAA because if I can go Ivy League I would never be able to get a chance for that education without hockey. I believe hockey will always end and you’ve got to have a back-up plan.
“It’s still great hockey and they’re one of the top-ranked teams right now.”
Wong went on a fly-down last week and was awestruck by the Cambridge, Mass. campus, the facilities and structure surrounding the Crimson hockey program.
“It’s definitely one of the greatest campuses in the world, it’s beautiful, historic. It was really interesting to go there,” Wong said. “What really drew me in was their facilities for hockey and the coaches, which is a huge part of your development as a player.”
Just to be considered for an Ivy League school, the academics need to be elite.
Wong has marks in the 90’s and scored a 1,170 on his SAT. He will take the latter again to attempt to boost his score if at all possible.
The Grade 12 student is leaning towards playing one extra season at the Junior level prior to moving onto the NCAA in the 2019-20 season.
“I’m really happy to get it, but I’m trying to keep the pride down,” he said. “I don’t want to be too proud, don’t want to get cocky because I haven’t accomplished anything yet by saying I’m going there. I haven’t gone there and done anything.”
Part of a hockey family out of Cochrane — including older brothers Tyler, who scored the first goal in the history of the Vegas Golden Knights in the preseason, and Colton — the youngest of three brothers credits his upbringing for getting him this far.
“It’s definitely motivational to see that (Tyler) can do it. He helps me with everything and I see how it worked out for him so why not me too?,” Wong said. “My parents and my brothers have always helped to push me to be the best version of me.
“And Tyler Deis (Oilers head coach) has coached me for a long time now, even when I was little he helped with my development and I attribute it all to my family and him.”
Deis, who coached Wong dating back several years in spring hockey, credited the 17-year-old forward for being a true professional on and off the ice.
“His marks are where they need to be to go to a school like that,” the coach said. “He works hard, he’s a very family-oriented kid and is accountable for what he does in school and on the ice.”
Wong, a soft-spoken and polite young man off the ice, plays the game like a raging bull. He now has the tools to play that way with tremendous effect.
“He got bigger, he was a really small kid,” Deis said. “The biggest thing is him just maturing into a man and the physical part of his body.”
Maturity that Oilers fans have witnessed for parts of two seasons.
Wong made a huge impact as a power forward in his rookie season and has added a lot of offence in year two at a point-per-game clip through 10 games.
“I would never change anything that I’ve done. There was a lot of options out there for me, but coming here is the best decision I’ve made in my hockey career,” Wong said. “Deis is such a great coach, the assistant coaches Ryan Barrett and Kyle Schussler are great development coaches too. All the guys, the town is great and I love it here.”