Clay Stevenson poses with the new jersey he’ll wear as a member of the Washington Capitals. (Photo submitted)

Clay Stevenson poses with the new jersey he’ll wear as a member of the Washington Capitals. (Photo submitted)

Former Wranglers goalie signs with Washington Capitals

Clay Stevenson said his time in 100 Mile House laid the foundations for success

A 100 Mile House Wrangler alumnus is going to the big leagues.

Clay Stevenson, who played goal for the Wranglers’ 2016-17 season, has signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals, worth $855,000 annually. The dream offer follows a three-stint with the Coquitlam Express and a year with the Dartmouth College hockey team.

“It feels really good. It’s definitely a little bittersweet leaving school. I came to Dartmouth for their great academics and the chance to play division one hockey,” Stevenson, 23, said. “Ultimately, though, my goal was to come here and sign an NHL contract. It’s an incredible accomplishment that lots of kids dream of when they’re young.”

Wranglers’ head coach Dale Hladun, who has a reputation for finding good goalies, said was impressed by Stevenson’s work ethic and playstyle from the start. He was filled with “parental pride” when he heard the news he was going pro.

“I did know he was getting a lot of NHL interest. A friend of mine who scouts for the Montreal Canadians phoned me about 10 days before Clay signed and said ‘Duner, remember you said you thought this kid was going to be a pro? There’s a lot of teams knocking on his door,” Hladun said. “I think he had a choice, I think he had multiple opportunities and I’m really happy for him.”

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Stevenson, who said he always wanted to be a goalie since he first began playing hockey at age seven, said coming to 100 Mile House proved to be a “keystone step” in his hockey career. Stevenson said he was inspired by Hladun, who kindled his drive to succeed.

“He pushed me to be my best and that in turn led me to go to the Coquitlam Express and flourish from there.”

The young goalie also credited his billet family – Chris and Crystal Dawn Langton – who made him feel at home in 100 Mile House.

“I think the coaches, the billet family and the players I was with just funnelled me to get to where I am now.”

His signing comes after what’s proven to be a standout rookie year for Stevenson at Dartmouth. He made 709 saves across 23 games giving him a .922 save percentage. Stevenson earned his first career shutout against Yale in February, blocking 37 shots on net, and was named Goalie of the Week by the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

He is one 55 NHL contracts offered by the Capitals.

Reid Cashman, head coach of Dartmouth Men’s Hockey, wished Stevenson well on his professional hockey career. “It has been a pleasure watching Clay develop under the guidance of Jason Tapp the last couple of years,” he said.

Stevenson has made plans to join the Hershey Bears, an affiliate team for the Capitals, after this semester to get an introduction to the “professional hockey lifestyle.”

Hladun said he’ll be looking for “the next Clay Stevenson” at the Wranglers’ tryout camp in Prince George on May 20-22.

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