In a normal year, fans would get the chance to watch their favourite Western Hockey League teams in action as the regular-season would be well underway.
However, as we know it, 2020 has been unlike any other year in the past due to the novel coronavirus. It shut down last year’s season before the playoffs and it has significantly delayed the start of this season. The league has said January 8 is when the new season will begin, a delay of more than three months.
With that said, WHL fans have still had the opportunity in some cases to watch their favourite players play across the country. The WHL granted roster players an opportunity to use a temporary transfer and many players took advantage of that by joining Junior A teams. For Daemon Hunt, he grew up in Brandon, MB and spent many weekend nights at Tundra Oil & Gas Place watching the Virden Oil Capitals of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
Wanting to get into some game action, Hunt took full advantage of the situation as he joined the Oil Capitals. He only played three games, but he was a spark plug in the team’s offence, as was expected. He scored three goals in the two games and added up two assists. After the three games, he was in a tie for seventh in team scoring.
Daemon’s biggest goal as an Oil Capital came back on October 31 when he scored the game-winner against the Winkler Flyers.
“It was good for me to get back into the swing of things. I hadn’t played a game for a long time, so it was great to get back at it,” said Hunt. “Virden is a great hockey community so it was great joining them. They welcomed me in with open arms. I was happy to be a part of the organization for the short time I was with them.”
With his time as an Oil Capital now in the past, Hunt, a Moose Jaw Warrior product has entered a bubble:
With less than two months until the puck drops on the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton, Hockey Canada previously announced its roster for its selection camp which is now underway in Red Deer, AB.
The camp which runs until December 13 features five goaltenders, 15 defencemen, and 26 forwards. The list includes Quinton Byfield, Bowen Byram, Dylan Cozens, and Jamie Drysdale, just to name a few. Also part of the group invited is Hunt, as the 18-year-old from Brandon has entered the Team Canada selection camp bubble.
“It’s always a great feeling when you’re recognized by Hockey Canada,” said Hunt. “For them to reach out to me, it means a ton. I always grew up watching this tournament and I always wanted to play in it. It’s a really exciting time.”
The selection camp which is held at the Westerner Park Centrium — which, as many of you know — is home to the Red Deer Rebels will include practices and three intrasquad games. On top of that, there will be six games against a team of U-Sports all-stars from November 28 to December 13.
This year’s camp truly is like no other. Many didn’t know what to expect going in, but that’s okay for Hunt who is very confident going in.
“It’s going to be different and I think that’s okay. I’m just excited to get back into it with Hockey Canada and get into a different routine,” offered Hunt. “Camp is going to be extremely fast and skilled. I just have to worry about myself and play every shift like it’s my last. I’m going in with the mentality that I can only control what I can control.”
Daemon says he will do anything he can to show the coaching staff that he deserves to be on the roster when the tournament opens on Christmas Day. Canada plays its first game on Boxing Day.
Team Canada rewind:
Daemon has played on Team Canada in the past, just not at the annual event during the Christmas holidays.
He played in the 2018 World U-17 Hockey Challenge on Team Canada Black. Hunt also played on Team Canada at the 2019 U-18 World Hockey Championships where the team finished in fourth place. Many players on that team are at Team Canada camp this year including Cozens and Drysdale, just to name a couple.
Daemon also helped Team Canada earn a silver medal at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. In all, the Brandon native has played in 17 games for his country and he has three points.
The Moose Jaw Warriors are the only team that Daemon truly knows in the WHL. The 15th overall pick in the 2017 WHL U-15 Draft, Daemon played his first nine regular-season games with Moose Jaw in the 2017-2018 season.
As we continue to wait for the new season to begin, Hunt will hit the century mark of games played early on in the season when it starts. He’s six games away when it comes to regular-season games with Moose Jaw. If you add his six playoff games to his total, Daemon has already played 100 games with Moose Jaw.
Hunt — who was drafted 65th overall by the Minnesota Wild earlier this year — has eight goals and 29 assists with Moose Jaw. In just 28 games last year, he had 15 assists.
There’s no doubt that Daemon is excited to return back to Moose Jaw for the new season. For now, however, the only goal he’s thinking about is making Team Canada ahead of the event that Daemon calls “the best in the world”.
“It would mean the world to me if I made this team. I honestly think it’s right within my reach, I just have to grab it,” ended Hunt.
This year’s event was scheduled to be co-hosted in Red Deer. That is no longer the case, however, as the novel coronavirus caused the organizing committee to change their plans. All games will now be played inside of the Edmonton bubble.
If you are a big hockey fan in Red Deer, you won’t have to wait long though. The event will be coming to the Westerner Park Centrium next year.