Hunter Wilhoite Named Eastern Hockey League Defensive Player of the Week

 Hunter Wilhoite
Following what was an impressive weekend of play, the VJW Junior A team was rewarded by having one of its own recognized by the Eastern Hockey League (EHL).

Defensive stalwart Hunter Wilhoite was named the EHL Defensive Player of the Week for November 4-11.

“He is our only right-handed defenseman, and he is very tough so we use him quite a bit,” said Andy Heinze, head coach and general manager of the VJW Junior A team. “I thought that he played really well and played physical all weekend long. He is doing a great job defensively by moving the puck around and reading plays.”

His toughness was on full display Friday when Wilhoite suffered a cut on his face during the second period of the game against the New Hampshire Monarchs. Eight stitches later, Wilhoite returned to the game and helped lead his team to a huge 3-2 victory against the Monarchs.

“He came back like nothing happened,” said Heinze about Wilhoite, who has played in 11 games thus far and posted four assists.

Heinze knew that Wilhoite – a Brentwood, Tennessee native – would be a key player and he is seeing that scouting report play out.

In fact, Jay Leach – associate head coach at the University of Maine and former assistant coach for the NHL’s Hartford Whalers – has worked with Wilhoite over the years and consulted frequently with Heinze about Wilhoite’s development and potential.

“Jay told me that he was a tough kid who works hard and gets the most out of his ability,” said Heinze, who is in constant contact with Division I & III coaches about prospective players. “He is focused and works hard in practice and is clearly very competitive in game situations.

Other VJW News & Notes

The VJW hosted the 2013 Warrior Classic this year and it drew some of the top EHL and Independent teams from across the country. Competition was held from Friday through Sunday and scouts from the top collegiate programs (as well as some NHL scouts) were on hand to take in all of the action.

In addition to the VJW Junior A team, the VJW Junior B and U18 Tier I squads were in action in Haverhill. Click here for complete results.

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On Friday, the Warriors knocked out the EHL North leading New Hampshire Monarchs. It was only the third Monarchs loss of the season and it snapped a nine-game win streak by the Monarchs. That accomplishment did not go unnoticed as it was included in as part of the EHL’s “Weekly Top 5”.

"When you play teams that come in with a strong record you expect to be in a tightly-contested game," said Heinze. "With 24 news kids on our roster, they are starting to come around and start to understand what it takes to win at this level. It is about playing a good three-zone game, and they are starting to pick up on it."

* * *

One of the key players in that contest was Matt Penta, who turned away 31 Monarch shots. Heinze felt that he could have very well been aptly named the EHL Goaltender of the Week.

“Matt Penta played extremely well against two high-powered offenses,” said Heinze referring to the Monarchs and Connecticut Oilers (the Warriors’ Saturday opponent). “He did a great job keeping us in there in different situations whether that be off-man rushes or extended in-zone time.”

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On Saturday, the Warriors’ leading scorer – Charlie Widmar – had an interesting sibling encounter. The Northbrook, Illinois-native faced off against his brother Joe Widmar who plays for the Connecticut Oilers. It marks the second time that the two siblings have competed against each other during this EHL season. In 14 games, Widmar leads the way with five goals and nine assists.

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The Warriors will enjoy three more days of practice before they hit the road to take on the New Jersey Titans at the Middletown Ice World (NJ). All games can be viewed live on FastHockey.com

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