Whitehorse’s Jonas Leas is becoming a hot commodity.
Western Hockey League clubs are starting to line up for a better view of his on-ice skills.
Following a standout performance at the B.C. Cup, the winger has been invited to rookie camps for four WHL teams this summer.
“It’s great. Honestly, I didn’t think I would get this much recognition – it’s great,” said Leas. “It’ll be a great experience to attend one of them.”
The Vancouver Giants, Kamloops Blazer, Prince George Cougars and Kelowna Rockets each extended invites this week to their camps. Since they are all on the same weekend, Leas can only attend one. He is undecided at which he’ll lace up.
“I haven’t done too much research on the three teams,” said Leas before the Rockets’ invitation on Thursday. “Any team I choose will be great. All three are great organizations. It’s a tough one to choose.”
Leas, who is Whitehorse Mustangs rep team alumni, skated on to the radars of the WHL teams during the B.C. Cup last month in Salmon Arm. Leas was one of 160 of B.C.‘s best U16 players selected from over 600 who tried out.
Leas qualified in the Lower Mainland camp out of 150 forwards. He tied for the most points on his team during the selection tournament in the Cup with two goals and one assist in five games, but was not among the 42 players selected to move on to Team B.C.
“It was a great experience to play with the top players in B.C.,” said Leas. “It made me a better player.”
The whirlwind of interest from the WHL teams comes while Leas is still too young to play in the league.
Leas is 14 years old while the WHL is a major junior league for players over 16. Players must be 16 years old to hold a permanent spot on the roster, but can be called up a few times a season while still 15.
Another thing Leas needs to consider is whether he wants to play WHL or NCAA because he can’t do both. One game in WHL makes a player ineligible to play NCAA in American schools.
“It’s going to be a hard decision,” said Leas. “I’m not too sure what route I’ll take, but whichever I take is going to be a great stepping stone.”
Leas, who was born and raised in Whitehorse, has played with the North Shore Winter Club, a Vancouver-based team, the last three seasons.
This past season he was captain of the Winterhawks Tier 2 squad and was named the team’s season MVP at the team’s annual banquet last month.
The Winterhawks won the Tier 2 Port Moody Tournament and took bronze in the Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament, with Leas leading the tournament in scoring with 19 points in six games. The team later defeated long-time rival Mission to reach the final of the Tier 2 provincial championships. The Winterhawks finished with silver after a loss to Penticton.
Leas was also called up to play for the Winterhawks at the Western Canada Bantam Hockey Championships last month. The Winterhawks won gold with a 4-3 double-overtime win over Alberta’s Lloydminster Heat.
Though Leas has played out of the territory the last three seasons, he hopes to represent Yukon at the Canada Winter Games next year in Prince George, B.C. Leas’ grandfather played for Team Yukon at the very first Canada Winter Games in 1967.
Yukon has been represented in the WHL the last two seasons by Whitehorse’s Brett Roulston playing for the Prince George Cougars. The Cougars missed the playoffs by one spot with a ninth place finish in the western conference this season. Roulston had one goal and seven assists in 48 games.
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