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Wilson Looks To Make The Transition

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Garrett Wilson skates recently in a practice at Panthers Development Camp (Glenn Odebralski)
By Molly Coller for

Garrett Wilson didn’t always aspire to be a hockey player. 

“When I was younger I would cry every time I had to practice,” said Wilson.

Not the expected response for a hockey player of such high caliber, but despite Wilson’s initial reaction, his parents continued to encourage practices and eventually Wilson fell in love with the game. 

The now 6-foot-3 206 1b left wing from Elmvale, ON has clearly come a long way since then. His dedication to hockey, strong defensive playing and leadership skills have led to numerous accomplishments.

As captain of the Owen Sound Attack this past season, Wilson guided his team to capture the OHL Championship. In 22 post-season games, Wilson scored 11 goals and added 10 assists with 28 PIM. The team ended the seventh game of the finals against Mississauga with a thrilling 3-2 win in overtime and had the audience on the edge of their seats the entire game.

“It was great to be captain of a winning team, it’s a lot of responsibility, but I thought I handled it pretty well,” said Wilson who was later knocked out of the CHL’s Memorial Cup Championships with concussion-like symptoms from a hit against the same Mississauga team Owen Sound defeated in the OHL playoffs. “I gained a lot of experience and hopefully I can carry that over to the next level.” 

The Florida Panthers prospect who was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, scored a career-high 40 goals and 46 assists for 86 points in 66 games this past season. However, as a 4th round pick, Wilson acknowledges the need for improvement.

“Getting picked in the fourth round is hard,” admitted Wilson. “There are a lot of higher round picks here and I need to focus on my game and do what I do best. They (Florida) saw something in me, so I know they like the way I play, I just need to keep working hard and try to make this team as quick as I can.”

But regardless of his draft ranking, Wilson is determined to take on the challenge to fully prepare himself for the transition from juniors to the pros. The 20-year old, who signed an entry-level contract on June 1, will enter his first year of professional hockey and will encounter new challenges, including doing his own cooking and laundry.

“In junior league you kind of get babied a bit; they do a lot of that stuff for you,” said Wilson during last month’s development camp at the Iceplex. “But here at the camp they taught us some of the basics so hopefully I can use that for next year.”

Working with the older players should give Wilson the confidence needed to be on his own.

“I think that’s what I look forward to most, working with the older players. Just seeing how they prepare for games and practices will help me learn a lot,” said Wilson. “It’s going to be tough but I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

With Panther General Manager Dale Tallon bringing in new faces at the deadline and creating frenzy in the media, Wilson believes the team is headed in a positive direction and just hopes to be a part of it all.

Whether he starts his professional career in San Antonio of the American Hockey League or with Florida will be decided at the upcoming training camp in September.
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