In the aftermath of the 2013 CWHL Draft, Jessica Wong is only the fourth player in CWHL history to be selected as the first pick overall in the league’s draft. Selected by the Alberta Hockey Club, the element that makes this pick unique is that Wong is the first visible minority to be selected first overall.
While Wong was selected for her tremendous hockey skill, on-ice vision and versatility for playing offense and defense, she is also a pioneer in the league’s growing history. It sends a positive message that reinforces young women can be whatever they wish to be, regardless of race, color or creed.
Of note, there is also another unique aspect of CWHL Draft history that Wong has become part of. Her teammate with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, Katie Wilson, was selected second overall. It marks the first time in draft history that the top two picks were both selected from the same school.
Her final season with the Bulldogs was more than just a farewell, it was the chance to celebrate one of the most storied careers in NCAA history. Wong made her impact as a freshman during the 2009-10 season.
With a season that was altered due to the fact that star players left their programs for the chance to compete for gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Wong would score a goal filled with more drama than any scored in Vancouver. A triple-overtime championship clinching goal in the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four transformed her into a legend as she scored one of the greatest goals in women’s hockey history.
It is that type of on-ice magic that Alberta is hoping for. With a team that only managed three wins in the 2012-13 campaign, an anemic offense only compounded problems. The presence of Wong ensures that the team will certainly score at a higher rate than the previous season.
Complemented by her ability to play both offense and defense, Wong’s experience on the blueline shall also compensate for the retirement of team captain Bobbi-Jo Slusar. Along with the losses of Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson and Tara Watchorn at Canada’s centralization camp for Sochi 2014, Wong has the opportunity to provide the club with much-needed defensive stability.
Alberta clearly has a gem in Wong. While the club only enters its third season, the possibility of a postseason berth is all too real. As every club has lost talent due to the impact of Sochi, the playing field has leveled considerably. Should Alberta manage to qualify for its first postseason, the acquisition of Wong will have already begun to yield a remarkable, yet positive return.