With the start to the WHL season being delayed until January, many players have taken their talents elsewhere while they prepare for the upcoming major junior campaign. One such player to do so is the WHL’s 2019 first-overall pick, Matthew Savoie. The Winnipeg ICE forward has started the season playing with the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the AJHL.
Alongside Savoie is Dylan Guenther, a fellow member of the Western Hockey League. Guenther, 17-years-old, is a top prospect eligible for next season’s NHL Entry Draft.
The Sherwood Park Crusaders appear to be a hockey club close to the Savoie family, as Matthew is not the first Savoie to suit up for the organization. Matthew’s brother, Carter, spent two seasons playing with the Crusaders himself. As a rookie in 2018-19, the oldest Savoie brother was not only named rookie of the year, but he was also given the honour of being named as the CJHL’s rookie of the year.
In doing so, he joined the likes of Cale Makar and Alex Newhook. During the 2019-20 season, Carter tallied 53 goals, which was the highest marker in the league, and was subsequently drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Matthew is building off of his brother’s success with the Crusaders, as he has been off to a hot start to kick off this year’s campaign. He was unstoppable during the league’s preseason play, having totalled 12 points in 10 games played. The potential 2022 top-five pick continued the success he had in the preseason when regular season play kick off for the Crusaders.
Through four games, the right-handed shooter has been one of the league’s top players on the scoresheet. His three goals and six points in four contests put him tied for third place in AJHL scoring. His offence has been quite impressive when considering the fact that the Crusaders hockey has not had a whole ton of success this season.
Through the team’s first four games, Sherwood Park has gone winless with just one point to their name at this time. That comes from an overtime loss. At just 16-years old, Savoie has already shown why many expect him to be among the first players selected in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Savoie has no shortage of skill and can create opportunities at will.
Leading up to the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, Savoie was the talk of the town. He was clearly the best player in the draft and was in consideration to be the first player to be granted exceptional status to the WHL. Ultimately, Savoie was denied the status, and as a result, was deemed not to be allowed to play in the WHL in his D+1 season.
He had committed to playing in the NCAA, however, the commitment didn’t last long. The WHL decided to make an exception and allowed the St. Albert native to play in over half the season as an underage centreman. Last season, competing as a rookie, he played in 22 games while also adding seven assists. Savoie spent the season’s second half playing in the CSSHL U18 league for Rink Hockey Academy prep.
Savoie’s development looks to be progressing quite well, as evident by his play at the Junior A level. He is expected to play his first full season in the WHL when major junior starts up again come January 8th. Playing in the AJHL is exactly what the 16-year-old needs before returning to the ICE for his second season in Winnipeg.
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