The Western States Hockey League, has long been the brunt of criticism and more recently speculation as to what the level of play within the WSHL actually is.
Speculation, and criticism began when the WSHL made the bold move of leaving USA Hockey for the Amateur Athletic Union concerning sanctioning. I am guilty of such criticism and speculation in the past. For myself though, that skeptical position changed last December.
Adam Vay is now changing the minds of many hockey people with his play in the IIHF World Championships for Hungary.
Entering the game against Canada mid way through the second period, Vay did all he could against a much more powerful team. Playing well enough Vay earned the start against the United States.
Facing the United States, Vay was peppered with shots. High quality shots coming from NHL players. Yes, the former Tier III goaltender is facing NHL players only twelve months after leaving the WSHL!
So, the question then becomes, is respect as a league earned or simply deserved. Do we respect the league, or simply respect the player who came from the league?
While its true that the WSHL gave itself the Tier II designation before last season, and many questioned the move, a player like Vay certainly has to make people take notice.
My evaluation of Vay is that he is not an NHL level goalie. A little slow on the glove side high, and tends to be a little loose in his lateral movement. Its the same evaluation I gave a goalie from the QMJHL who went on to an NHL main camp a few years ago. Granted that goalie was younger, but he also had the benefit of the training provided by the QMJHL and did not come from Hungary.
Vay right now is an ECHL level goaltender with AHL potential for injury call up. Not too bad for someone who was in the WSHL only 12 months ago. Not too bad for a player who until that time was completely unheard of, who is now making a name for himself on the world stage.
Vay is also making the case for the WSHL as a legitimate development option in front of the whole hockey world. Scouts who took notice, will surely notice the league he came from.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher