New City, New Team: Same Talented Declan Waddick

A year ago, the path was clear for Declan Waddick. Suit up for the Sun County Panthers, dominate the Alliance Hockey ‘AAA’ loop, become a top pick for the OHL Draft.

Enter COVID-19.

With the season in doubt, and so much uncertainty, Waddick and his family made the best decision they could to allow him to continue to chase his OHL dreams, by moving up the 401 to Waterloo for the year.

“With not knowing what was going to happen this year, my parents decided that Victus Hockey Academy could offer me the on-ice and off-ice development I needed,” Waddick said about the move. “I’m on the ice 4 days a week and in the gym 4 days a week. I love it. It’s built into my school day. And with small class sizes, we thought it might be safer going back to the classroom. I also made the Waterloo Wolves ‘AAA’ team. Even with it being a slow start because of COVID, it’s been a great experience so far. The coaches and the players made me feel welcomed right from the start.”

After leading the Alliance’s Major Bantam loop with 32 goals last year while playing with the Sun County Panthers, and finishing the season with 56 points in only 30 games, Waddick was considered the likely top prospect in the league.

In an OHL Draft year, that title typically comes with heavy scouting at every tournament and event possible. In the absence of those, Waddick is focused on doing whatever he can to be ready to impress when the opportunity comes.

“This has been a crazy season for everyone. We have missed out on a lot games, tournaments, showcases and all I want to do is play,” said the Chatham-Kent product, who also spent multiple seasons suiting up for the Chatham-Kent Cyclones, Kent Cobras, and playing soccer with the Chatham Attack.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for the OHL draft year. But all I can do is try and make the best of it, and that is what I am focused on doing. I am getting as much ice time as I can, concentrating on skill development and things that I need to improve on.”

Spoken like a true professional, already prepared for the step to the OHL.

Back home, many of Waddick’s former teammates including Brayden Degelas, David Brown, Brenden McKay, Braden Twigg, and Trent Ledrew are playing the same waiting game for the OHL Draft.

Waddick’s mindset toward personal growth is likely why the move to Waterloo was seamless for the offensive threat.

“Moving to a bigger city was easier for me than I thought it would be. I knew a lot of guys from Waterloo, the whole team has been great with me. It’s a really good group of guys. And being in a hockey school, I am in my element with other boys I’ve known for years.”

With the OHL season in doubt, no one knows when an OHL Draft will occur either, leaving the future seeming cloudy for prospects such as Waddick. For now, Waddick, like so many during the pandemic, are just focusing on taking things a day at a time, and being ready for the world, including the hockey world, to open back up.

“Right now, I am focusing on the chance that there could be a draft so I need to keep working hard and improve my game. No matter when the draft is, I am putting in the same effort. Sooner or later, that day will come and I will be ready.”

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