“Fearsome Young Sharks” Prospect Profile – William Wrenn

Photo courtesy of Alexander Zimmermann {@Alex_Z_Sharkie}

On June 27, 2009, the San Jose Sharks drafted American defenseman William Wrenn with the 43rd pick in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

“My strong point is playing hard, tough defense,” said Wrenn in a June 2009 interview with John McGourty of nhl.com that was posted on the San Jose Sharks website shortly after being drafted.  “I like to hit and be physical, get in kids’ faces.  I’m good making the first pass to get out of our zone and I’m well positioned.”

A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Wrenn moved to Los Angeles, California, at the age of 14 to play for the elite Los Angeles Selects AAA Team as he said the caliber of hockey was better and got noticed by USA Hockey.  The following year, Wrenn agreed to join the United States National Team Development Program {US NTDP} team.

Over the next two seasons {2007-08, 2008-09}, Wrenn skated for the US NTDP in Ann Arbor, Michigan, playing a basic collegiate schedule against teams such as Colorado College and Michigan

Captaining the 2008-09 squad, Wrenn registered 17 points on six goals and 11 assists in 60 games while leading Team USA to gold medals at the 2008 Under-18 Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, New York, the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation {IIHF} Under-18 Five Nations Cup in Nykoping, Sweeden and the 2009 IIHF Under-18 World Championships in Fargo, North Dakota, the first time a U.S. team had won an international hockey tournament on American soil since the 1980 men’s Olympic hockey team.

“I had won a national peewee championship with the L.A. selects, but winning the World Under-18s were definitely the biggest accomplishment in my career,” said Wrenn in the McGourty interview.  “We worked two years for that gold medal and it actually happened.  The crowd was chanting, ‘USA, USA.’  Going up to get that trophy and then bringing it back to my teammates was the best feeling I have ever had.”

After the World Under 18s, Wrenn headed to Denver University to begin his collegiate career.  In 23 games in the 2009-10 season, Wrenn registered seven points on seven assists to go along with 107 hits and 23 blocked shots.  Unfortunately, Wrenn missed 14 games with a hip injury that required surgery.

Making a full recovery for his sophomore season, Wrenn found himself near the bottom of a seven-man rotation on defense that wasn’t to his liking.  “I just wasn’t fitting back in the lineup, no matter what I did,” said Wrenn in an April 2011 interview with Jim Beseda of oregonlive.com.  “The coaches were trying to work everybody in, but it’s hard to flow as a team with seven defensemen.  I just felt I’d hit a block and I wasn’t going to move anytime soon.”

Registering one assist and a team worst plus/minus rating of -7 in 18 games, Wrenn felt his game wasn’t developing fast enough and with no guarantee from Denver University head coach George Gwozdecky or the coaching staff that his scarce ice time would increase, Wrenn opted to walk away from one of the nation’s top Division I hockey programs to play major junior hockey for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League {WHL}.

“It was tough to leave a school like that and the academic opportunity I had there, but I want to be a hockey player,” said Wrenn in the Beseda article.  “That’s what I’ve always wanted, so I decided to take a chance and go for it.”  You know, I can always go back to school, but the window of opportunity to play hockey stays open for only so long.”

Gwozdecky harbored no ill-will towards Wrenn, stating in a January 3 interview with the Denver University Athletics website that “William feels he will have a better opportunity to play on a regular basis and contribute in a more important role at the junior hockey level.  He was a good teammate and was well liked in our locker room.  William will be missed by our program.”

On January 4, 2011, Winterhawks General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston welcomed Wrenn to the Winterhawks, the same team who had listed then 14-year old Wrenn on their 50-player protected list in May 2006 following the 2006 WHL Bantam Draft despite Wrenn telling everybody at the time of his intentions to play college hockey.

Getting Wrenn when they did proved to be a blessing for the Winterhawks as three weeks after Wrenn’s arrival, veteran defenseman and team captain Brett Ponich needed surgery to reconstruct a torn cruciate ligament in his left knee, sidelining Ponich for the remainder of the regular season and most of the WHL Memorial Cup Playoffs.

Having to quickly adjust to the demanding WHL schedule, Wrenn was paired with defenseman Taylor Aronson and together, the duo became a steady force on the blue line as they led the Winterhawks to the WHL Finals {The Kootenay Ice defeated the Winterhawks in five games to win the series} and were consistently used against the opposition’s top forward lines.

“If you’re a forward and you’re going to play against William Wrenn, you’re going to have to really compete hard, because he battles hard and he’s got a competitive edge to him,” said Johnston in the Beseda article.  “We were very fortunate that we got him when we did from Denver.  He’s been a huge addition.”

Wrenn finished the regular season with 13 points on two goals and 11 assists in 29 games to go along with 17 penalty minutes and was named the Winterhawks Co-Defensive Player of the Year along with Aronson in a voting by the players.

“The team welcomed me right away and put me in a position where I could play a lot,” said Wrenn in the Beseda article.  “It’s been an unbelievable experience ever since I’ve been here.  I feel as if my game is actually progressing again and I’m slowly moving forward instead of just idling like I felt I had been at Denver.”


William Wrenn 2009 NHL Draft Video  {Courtesy of YouTube user “C1n3m4”}

William Wrenn USA Hockey Hit  {Courtesy of YouTube user “Slaphappypappy100”}

William Wrenn Goals vs. Russia at U18s  {Courtesy of YouTube user “Slaphappypappy100”}

Jacob Doty vs. William Wrenn WHL Fight Jan. 22, 2011  {Courtesy of YouTube user “hockeyfightsplus”}

Multiple Fist-Fights Jan. 22, 2011  {Courtesy of YouTube user “giddyup523”}

*Videos and information were used from sharks.nhl.com, www.denverpioneers.com, www.hockeydb.com, www.denverpost.com, www.winterhawks.com, www.oregonlive.com, www.fearthefin.com and www.youtube.com for this post entry.*


About Jon Allred

Life long San Jose and Worcester Sharks fan that bleeds teal and black.

Posted on June 21, 2011, in Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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