By Ben Shelley
In his first season as a Ram, Joel Wigle is already having early success as a member of Ryerson’s men’s hockey team.
At 6’2”, 200 lbs., and known to play physical game, Wigle has also been contributing to the team’s offense scoring 8 points in 16 games in his rookie season. Known for his checking and fighting abilities while playing in the Ontario Hockey League, Wigle has instead been used frequently on the Rams’ penalty kill since joining the team, and can be used in almost any situation on the ice.
“I really tried to evolve into a more complete player in my later years [in the OHL]. Last year I had a really good opportunity in Erie and I was beginning to become that player before I broke my hand, and that’s the type of player I’d like to become here at Ryerson.”
Fellow first year player, Luke Mercer, played with Wigle for his first two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, a member of the Niagara IceDogs. Now reunited with Wigle at Ryerson, Mercer says he’s been able to see improvements in Wigle’s game, and says that Wigle is an asset to the team.
“He’s a big guy, and his foot speed is a lot better than when we were drafted in Niagara,” said Mercer. “He brings a big body, he gets in the forecheck and he hits guys, but he can put the puck in the net as well.”
Before coming to Ryerson, Wigle spent five seasons in the OHL splitting time between the Niagara IceDogs, Erie Otters, and London Knights. Throughout his time in the OHL, Wigle had the chance to play with Ryan Strome of the New York Islanders, Max Domi of the Arizona Coyotes, and many more current NHL players.
However at the start of his final season in the OHL as a member of the Erie Otters, Wigle had one of the biggest chances of his career. Starting the season in Erie, Wigle was put on on a line with current Edmonton Oiler rookie, Connor McDavid. Wigle was off to an incredible start to the season playing with the current NHLer, but then broke his hand, and was later traded when he returned from injury.
“It was really tough to swallow, because the previous year I had missed about 30 games with two shoulder injuries,” said Wigle. “Coming back I had an opportunity, I was playing with McDavid, I had worked really hard in the summer, and [the injury] was just devastating.”
Wigle is currently coming off of a quad contusion that sidelined him for seven games through the back half of November, as well as the full month of December. However Rams’ head coach Graham Wise has been impressed with Wigle’s play, and hopes to continue to use him moving forward.
“He’s arguably the best penalty killer on the team,” said Wise. “He’s so good positionally, he blocks shots…. and we’re really happy he decided to come to Ryerson.”
When asked if he can see Wigle taking on more of a leadership role in the future, Wise responded with “definitely”.
When it comes to professional hockey, Wigle says he may consider playing after university, however he also takes his school work seriously, and is considering becoming a police officer upon graduation. Regardless, Wigle is hoping to chip in now, and do what he can to help the Rams be successful in the playoffs this season.
“We had high expectations coming into the season, and I think we’re starting to turn it around now,” he said.