Matthew Wood went from country to club in a whirlwind week.
The Nanaimo product scored his fourth goal of the tournament and recorded his eighth point for Team Canada Red in a 5-4 loss overtime loss to Team Canada Black on Wednesday night in the Capital City Challenge U-17 tournament in Ottawa.
On Friday night he had an assist in another losing cause as the Victoria Grizzlies were defeated 7-2 by the Surrey Eagles in a B.C. Hockey League game at The Q Centre.
“The travel day Thursday was long but I’m not too tired,” Wood said before the game Friday.
“I’m excited to be back.”
And with a lot learned from playing with the best U-17 players in the country, almost all of whom are being studied for selection in the 2023 NHL draft.
“I knew there were scouts there but I didn’t focus on that. I just focused on helping my team win,” said Wood, the six-foot-three power-forward prospect, who at 16 years of age, led the BCHL in scoring before departing to the U-17 tournament in Ottawa.
The tournament was a measuring stick against the best U-17s in the country, including Ty Halaburda of Victoria, the WHL Vancouver Giants forward who scored twice to lead Team Canada Black over Wood’s Team Canada Red in the championship game. The two played against each other growing up, Wood on North Island rep teams and Halaburda on South Island rep squads.
“Ty [Halaburda] is a super-fast skater and a 200-foot player. I like his game a lot,” said Wood.
Wood has a different style of game as a power forward.
“Development wise, I know I have to keep working hard, and I learned a lot in the U-17 tournament. And it was really cool to put on a Canada jersey for the first time,” he said.
(Defenceman Austin Zemlak of the WHL Victoria Royals was selected for the tournament but is injured and was unable to play).
Wood said a highlight was having the Canadian national women’s team play in the tournament as part of its preparation for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Team Canada White beat the women’s national team 6-1 in the bronze-medal game.
“That was pretty exciting for us to have them in the tournament and I’m really looking forward to watching them in the Olympics,” said Wood.
Now it’s back to club matters for Wood as the Grizzlies (11-10) look to turn around a four-game losing streak. Captain Ellis Rickwood, returning from a one-game suspension, scored for Victoria on Friday, as did defenceman Michael Adamek. Jacob Slipec and Jake Bongo led Surrey (9-9) with a goal and assist each.
The Grizzlies host the Chilliwack Chiefs (10-6) tonight at The Q Centre.