Olen Zellweger epitomizes the modern defenceman.
Bringing plenty of mobility and puck-moving skill to the back end, the Everett Silvertips rearguard shined in an 11-game sophomore season that saw him score north of a point-per-game in recording two goals with 11 assists, topping his production from a year prior despite playing an abbreviated campaign.
A native of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., this year also saw Zellweger get his second shot with Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence in joining the Great White North at the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championship in Texas where his eight points tied for top spot among all Canadian blue-liners and proved critical in helping his home country capture its first gold medal at the tournament since 2013. A projected early selection in the upcoming NHL Draft, such a showcase was another opportunity for Zellweger put his skills on display for onlooking talent evaluators.
Zellweger reflected on the under-18 tournament, his play with the Silvertips this season, and more in the latest edition of the CHL Sunday Spotlight presented by WINMAR:
What was your experience like this season with the Silvertips?
My experience this season with the Silvertips was very positive. We had a great group this year and we had another winning record. It was a great effort by Everett and the WHL to put together a season and I am super thankful that we got to play.
What advice have your Everett teammates given you ahead of the NHL Draft?
I have been grateful to have lots of teammates sign in the NHL and go through the NHL Draft. Leading into this year’s NHL Draft, the advice I have received is to be confident, have fun, and really enjoy the moment.
Who has been the most challenging forward you have faced in the WHL?
The most challenging forward I have had to play against was probably Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He is a really good player and a really fast skater. I felt that he was a challenging player to play against.
What was it like to win gold with Canada at the U18s?
Winning gold with Team Canada at the under-18s is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. It was such an honour to wear the Maple Leaf and have that experience. We had such a great group there. We had a tight group. Everyone was bought-in and really wanted to win the tournament. It was an amazing event and I will never forget it.
Which NHL defenceman do you model your game after?
I like to model my game after a player like Samuel Girard on the Colorado Avalanche. I think his qualities as a dynamic, mobile, puck-moving defenceman are quite similar to the assets that I possess. He is someone I like to watch and I try to emulate his skills.