To say Jack Works had a breakout season with the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) would be the understatement of the week.
It was one for the record books – literally.
The 18-year-old was the star of the show for the Oilers as he put up 92 points – 43 goals and 49 assists – in the regular season, a new franchise record for points scored in a single campaign and the fifth-best total in the AJHL this season. It was quite the jump from his rookie season last year, where he put up 29 points.
Works said it was unexpected but cool.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it until the last few games of the regular season,” he said. “People were telling me I was close but I tried not to think about it. When I got it, it was a cool feeling knowing I had the record. The puck was just going in and everything went right.”
In addition to leading the team in scoring this season, Works also led the team in power-play goals – 13 – and game-winning goals with 12. His average of 1.6 points per game was also a team best.
Works’ performance was good enough to see him nominated for the AJHL’s most valuable player award, which eventually went to Arjun Atwal of the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
“I wasn’t expecting to be the MVP this season but it was awesome to be nominated for it,” said Works. “Most people knew Arjun would get it; he had an amazing season.”
He was named the team’s most valuable player, however, at a team gathering on March 7 as well as winning the team’s top forward award.
He also had an invite to the training camp for Team Canada West’s entry into the World Junior A Challenge back in January but he didn’t make the final cut.
Not making the team wasn’t a complete disappointment, he said.
“It was a sign that people think you’re good and just being at camp was pretty cool,” said Works.
Team-wise, the Oilers are gearing up to begin their run in the AJHL South Division playoffs on March 14 at home against either the Camrose Kodiaks or Canmore Eagles. Game seven of that series is scheduled to happen on Wednesday.
The Oilers finished first in the South Division during the regular season, losing just seven games, and have home-ice advantage right through to at least the divisional final.
Works isn’t fussy about who the opponent is for the upcoming round.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “You just want to go as far as you can and our goal is the title.”
The Oilers had a first-round bye thanks to their finish and a long layoff can sometimes be detrimental to a team but Works said the team has been going hard at practice.
“A few people have been asking us if we’re ready and we’ve been going at it hard to get ready,” he said. “It’s a best-of-seven and we’re starting at home so that’s always a positive.”
No matter what happens at the end of this season, Works will return for one more campaign in Okotoks before heading off to school. He’s committed to the University of Denver’s men’s hockey team in Colorado and plans on majoring in finance.
He’s eligible for the National Hockey League’s entry draft this year and while he’s not thinking about that aspect, he said it’s always in the back of his mind.
“It’s something you dream about but I’m not worried about that right now,” he said.
One thing Works has been thinking about during the time off between the end of the regular season and the playoffs is home and the people who got him to where he is right now.
“There are a lot of people in Yellowknife who helped me when I was younger and it’s cool to think about those people,” he said. “People like Dan Schofield are a part of that and I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I’ve been lucky.”