The Swift Current Broncos 2019 draft class has been getting plenty of headlines this season as the team looks to get back to playoff contention in the near future. But 2018 ninth round pick Caleb Wyrostok is also an important part of the rebuild and has already shown signs of being a productive forward in the Western Hockey League, despite only having 25 games of experience.
The 5’9’’, 160-pound Medicine Hat native had five goals, five assists, 13 penalty minutes, and a plus-two rating in his first 21 games this season.
“It’s been going really well. It’s definitely faster, guys are a lot more skilled, bigger, stronger, so obviously I have to adapt to that. I think it’s been going pretty smooth for myself,” he explained of his adjustment to the WHL.
Wyrostok registered 23 goals and 25 assists in 31 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep team in the U18 CSSHL last season and the diminutive forward is an intriguing blend of skill and grit.
“Wyro is one of those guys that competes really hard. His game is all about playing in the trenches. He is pretty skilled as well. His nickname kind of fits him because he is pretty wirey. He comes up with pucks and he does a lot of good things,” said Broncos Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Dean Brockman.
“I’d like to think I’m more of a get pucks in deep and then crash the net kind of guy,” added Wyrostok. “But there’s definitely been games where I felt the puck has just been drawn to me a bit more and I’ve been able to make lots of good plays that way. It depends on the game, but if I’m not handling the puck well I’m just going to do my best to get it deep and set up my linemates and then just bang in a greasy one.”
There has been plenty of opportunity for Wyrostok on a young team this season.
“With lots of young guys in the line-up we’re all getting our fair share of chances to help the team out and contribute in that way. So I think just getting the confidence up with playing a higher amount of minutes, just getting the confidence is probably the biggest thing.”
He appeared in four games with the Broncos last season, scoring in his first WHL game, a highlight reel effort against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Dec. 11, 2019. He has added some noteworthy goals this season, but said his first career goal remains his favourite.
“I’d definitely say my first goal still, just playing my first game and that happening and having that opportunity, that will stick with me for awhile for sure.”
Wyrostok and his teammates have been living together at Luther College in Regina since March 27.
“It’s been interesting. It’s definitely not a regular season, but I think that’s allowed us to get closer as a team just spending this much time together and living in the dorms and really not having any alone time other than in our rooms at night. It’s been a really good way to get close to some of the guys and make a bunch of new friends. It’s been really good.”
He was only days away from leaving the Hub Centre.
“I will definitely hang out with family, see my dog again is probably one of the biggest things. Then just enjoy the nice weather that is coming. I’ll take a couple weeks off before I start training again probably.”
Wyrostok was drafted in the ninth round, 197th overall, in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
“His development has been a lot of fun. He wants to be a player and he’s always working at it,” said Brockman. “He’s a pretty good leader. Eventually he’s a guy that I can see potentially getting a letter down the road for sure.”
Wyrostok played all four of his games in 2019-20 on the road and all 21 games this season in Regina, so he has yet to play a regular season game at the Innovation Credit Union iplex in Swift Current.
“I can’t wait for that honestly. Just getting back into a building with fans and the atmosphere with a bunch of people, it’s going to amazing compared to this season obviously with no fans it’s been a bit dead in some games. I can’t wait.”