728 x 90

Chase Bertholet relishes WHL experience

  • In Sports
  • May 4, 2021
  • By
  • 8 Views
img

When he’s an old man looking back at his junior hockey rookie season, The Pas product and Winnipeg Ice forward Chase Bertholet will have a unique story to tell, no doubt about it.
It wasn’t the rookie campaign he probably envisioned when he was selected in the fifth round, 94th overall, in the WHL’s bantam draft. But who could have envisioned a worldwide pandemic to sweep the globe right when Bertholet was looking to break into one of the premier junior hockey leagues in the world?
But at least he got something of a season under his belt. The Ice recently wrapped up their abbreviated schedule in the Regina “bubble”, where all Eastern Division teams were isolated on the University of Regina campus, being cut off from the outside world except for their trips to the rink.
Bertholet, a five-foot-11-inch, 175 pound, 18 year old forward with the ICE, scored twice and added six assists in 18 games, who finished in second place overall against their fellow Manitoba and Saskatchewan teams, going 18-5-1 in the process.
The former Prince Albert Mintos midget star (point-game-player both years) says playing in the bubble was a unique experience to say the least.
“The ‘bubble’ has been great – I think we’re all just thankful that we’ve been given an opportunity to play, and a chance to continue with our development in these difficult times,” said Bertholet.
He said while they couldn’t leave the bubble, they were kept extremely busy to make the most of the situation.
“We did a lot of video sessions, and study hall was a big thing, as we need to continue our education,” he said. “That’s pretty much all we do, other than calling home and checking in with family and friends.
“I Facetime my parents every night – they’ve been extremely supportive.”
Bertholet actually got a bit of a head start to this season, as he was one of several WHL players who started the year in the junior A ranks. He suited up with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires, where he played in six games, picking up three assists in the process.
“Melville was a great opportunity – I was fortunate to be playing in a great town, with a great organization,” he said. “I was also playing with great players who were also in the WHL. And even after our season got shut down, the coaches work hard on developing us skaters, and that really helped me moving on into the WHL.”
As for how he felt his rookie season went, Bertholet feels he was able to take a big step forward in his hockey journey – a true blessing considering there was a chance this season almost didn’t take place.
“It’s been good – I’ve definitely learned a lot, and it’s been a real learning curve,” he added. “It’s been fast, lots of games coming quickly at you. So I tried to remain healthy, and tried to be the hardest worker I can.”
A highlight for any player it getting your first goal in a new league, and Bertholet remembers his vividly.
“It was definitely an experience I won’t forget,” he said. “After I got a great pass from my line-mate Conor Geekie (who himself started the year with the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals), I put it top shelf. I was pretty relived when it went off the back of the net, and that really helped move my confidence forward.”
Bertholet also got a front row ticket to the debut of the next hockey superstar in Regina Pats rookie Conner Bedard. The B.C. product got special exemption to play at a 15 year old, and he didn’t disappoint, scoring 12 goals and adding 16 assists in just 15 games.

“His skill and IQ in the game has been a treat to watch, but not been the best to play against, you could say,” said Bertholet with a bit of a chuckle. “It’s been great watching him, a future star. And I know he’s only 15, but you can really learn a lot from just watching him.”
He also laughed that was he was on the ice when Bedard almost scored one of those lacrosse style goals that end up on those TSN highlight packages for all time.
With the season now complete, Bertholet, the Winnipeg Ice, and the rest of the hockey world hope that come fall, there will be enough people vaccinated that we no longer have to talk about playing in a bubble, and that things can start to get back to normal.
And at least this season wasn’t a complete write off. It wasn’t normal by any stretch, but as noted early, years down the road, Bertholet will have some unique stories to tell about his rookie WHL season.

img
REPORTER