Sitting in an arena with owners, general managers, coaches, Hall of Fame players and other talented prospects is nerve racking enough. But waiting to hear your name called in order to discover which National Hockey League jersey you will put on over your suit takes it to another level.
Wade Allison, 19, is a freshman at Western Michigan University. He’s also been drafted by an NHL team, and can leave anytime he wants to play pro hockey. But for now, he’s content to stay in Kalamazoo, playing for the Broncos and getting his college education.
In the second round, Hall of Fame Philadelphia Flyers’ player Bobby Clarke, former Flyers’ goalie Ron Hextall and current Flyers’ head coach Dave Hakstol took to the stage and called Allison’s name, making him the 52nd pick out of 211 players drafted.
“The whole experience was something else, just from the moment they called my name until three hours later, it’s like a blur,” Allison said about his draft day experience. “You’re just so excited, you’re so in the moment, you’re like ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ it’s something you never think will actually happen as a kid; you always dream about it but you never actually think it will happen.”
After the draft, the Roland, Manitoba resident had a decision to make; play for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League in Canada, or come to the United States to play for a college team. Since the WMU hockey team’s head coach, Andy Murray, is a Manitoba resident and already knew Allison’s family, so it made for an easier decision about where Allison would play.
“We’re both from Manitoba, so there’s a Manitoba connection between his family, and me,” Murray said. “(Allison) is a talented player and a good guy off of the ice, and he’s mature beyond his years. We’re really happy to have him here.”
The 6’2” right winger has seven goals and three assists through 14 games with Western this season. Last season with the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League, a junior hockey league, Allison scored nine goals and seven assists in 11 playoff games, leading the Storm to the league championship, the Clark Cup, and being named playoff Most Valuable Player.
Due to his size, Allison is considered a physical player, and he thrives in the corners and in front of the net. Allison said he models his play after Jeff Carter, 6’4”, of the Los Angeles Kings, and Troy Brouwer, 6’3”, of the Calgary Flames.
The Manitoba native grew up loving the Pittsburg Penguins of the NHL, and Sidney Crosby was his favorite player. Allison’s allegiance changed when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg to become the Jets at the beginning of the 2011-12 season.
Allison met his Western teammates over the summer, and right after seeing his talent and work ethic, sophomore Colt Conrad, 19, was happy that Allison chose to come to Western. Conrad plays on a line with Allison.
“He definitely brings the team up. I’ve known for all my life pretty much and he’s always been that way,” Conrad said. “All the guys like him, enjoy his presence in the locker room, on the ice he brings the energy. He’s powerful he gets into the corners, he works there and puts their [defense] under a lot of pressure. It helps us in the long run.”