A Williams Lake minor hockey product is lacing up his skates this season in the Western States Junior ‘A’ Hockey League.
Nineteen-year-old Jimi Belleau-Wells, who helped Williams Lake Midget Tier 2 Timberwolves to a provincial bronze medal during the 2018/19 season, has taken his talents east to Saskatchewan’s Meadow Lake Mustangs.
Belleau-Wells notched his first WSHL goal in his first regular season game Friday night in the team’s 6-4 home opener against the Cold Lake Hornets.
“It was really exciting,” Belleau-Wells told the Tribune. “It felt like it happened in a matter of seconds. We were down in our end and we had a clean breakout and got an odd-man rush. My buddy was able to pass it across and I put it into the open net, so it was a pretty great feeling for me in my first game.”
Belleau-Wells’ journey east of B.C. began after he tried out for the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s North Okanagan Knights in Armstrong.
After being the last player cut from the team, his uncle suggested he contact his friend, and head coach, of the Mustangs, Marty Ross.
“They were looking for guys, and I got some help from my family and flew out in the next couple days. I have family here I’m billeting with, but it’s a big change here in Saskatchewan,” he said. “But it’s going great. I’m enjoying it here. The hockey’s fun, and I’m getting along with everyone on the team.”
Players in the league are from throughout Canada, and even abroad, as one of the Mustangs’ goaltenders has travelled from England to play in the league.
The WSHL was established in 1993 and is sanctioned as an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) junior ice hockey league.
The league features 23 teams in four divisions. The Mustangs compete at the District Rec Centre in the Provincial Division with the Barrhead Bombers, the Cold Lake Hornets, the Edson Aeros and the Hinton Timberwolves.
Following a roughly 50-game regular season teams compete for the Thorne Cup championship.
Belleau-Wells said he credits and thanks his past coaches with the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association for helping him to continue his dream of playing hockey.
“Everyone’s been very supportive,” he said. “I’m from Alkali, my family’s based out of there, and my mom was the person who got right behind me when I told her about coming here, and all my family has been just really good.
“I’ve had great coaching all along. My rep tier 2 with Owen Thomas, Steve Carpenter and Frankie Robbins and all those guys — it’s pretty great to be taught by them, and I wouldn’t know what I know today without them. I’m very thankful for that.”
Belleau-Wells added he’s particularly excited about a showcase tournament in Las Vegas the team will be attending this December that will see the Mustangs face off against three U.S. teams and then return home for a Christmas and New Year’s break.
“I’m really looking forward to Vegas,” he said. “Should be the experience of a lifetime.”
Asked about several of his fellow teammates from the Timberwolves who have gone on to play at the junior ‘B’ and junior ‘A’ levels over the past couple of years, Belleau said it’s fun to see.
“It’s spectacular to see everyone out of Williams Lake playing some high-level hockey,” he said.
“It’s awesome to see and watch and all the best of luck to them.”