A month ago, after being released by the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos, Andrew Johnson wasn’t sure what direction his hockey career would take.
Then the 20-year-old Saskatoon native had a meeting with West Kelowna Warriors’ head coach and general manager Rylan Ferster.
“I was at home in Saskatchewan and Rylan came to see me,” said the 5-foot-9, 182-pound forward. “We had a conversation and it seemed to click right away, I felt really comfortable talking to him. Plus, my grandparents live in West Kelowna, so it seemed like a really good situation.”
Johnson had just started his fifth season in the WHL when the Broncos had to make a decision on which three overage players to retain. Johnson was the odd man out.
“It kind of sucks when it happens, but one thing I’ve learned in my years in hockey is when one door shuts, a whole bunch of new ones open,” he said. “This was a real cool opportunity and I’m just fortunate it came along.”
And it didn’t take long for Johnson to fit in with his first BCHL club.
For starters, the Warriors quickly assigned the captain’s logo to his jersey.
On and off the ice, Ferster said Johnson is the kind of player any coach would be thrilled to have in his lineup.
“I think right from being a leader, to being our best face off man, to killing penalties, playing on the power play…he’s a very valuable guy,” said Ferster. “He’s been around, he plays the game the right way and he just acts like a pro. I can’t say enough about how Andrew came in and really fit in quick.”
As for the responsibilities and expectations that come along with his new’s team captaincy, Johnson is embracing the opportunity.
“It’s pretty special and it’s not something I’m taking lightly,” said Johnson, who had eight goals and 12 points in his first 13 games with West Kelowna. “I think, as a team, we’re starting to find our identity. We’ve got some learning to do yet, but we’re getting there.
“It’s a really good group of guys who welcomed me with open arms and I’m excited to be here.”
Johnson and the Warriors return to action Friday night when they host the Vernon Vipers.