Johnny Wescoe may have had his first full season in the NCDC, but there was a lot of familiarity to the 2020-21 season.
Wescoe skated alongside many former Skipjacks Hockey Club teammates, and patrolling the bench was his longtime and former Skipjacks coach Jason Kersner. So, the transition was seamless and it was no surprise that his comfort level with his surroundings resulted in a powerful season of 22 goals and 21 assists for 43 points. This placed Wescoe second on the Rockets to another former Skipjack (Clark Kerner) in scoring, and 10th in the entire NCDC.
With all of this in mind, it was no surprise when the ‘01 out of Mechanicsburg, Pa., was voted by the NCDC coaches as the Rookie Of The Year for 2020-21.
“It’s pretty cool, a very special moment. I worked pretty hard for it, so it’s nice to see all of the work pay off,” said Wescoe. “It was a very special season. It started out [frustratingly] with COVID and its restrictions, but then it turned out to be an unforgettable year, with going to Hub City Tampa. The whole league moving to one city was amazing.”
What was also amazing was the Rockets’ turnaround, as the first-year coach Kersner took a team that had won a combined 34 games in 2018-19 and 2019-20 to a 35-win season in this 2020-21 campaign.
“Jason Kersner put together a really good team and really turned the program around,” said Wescoe, who played three years at the 16U and 18U levels for Jason Kersner and his brother Jared for the Skipjacks. “He started all of us at the 16U levels, and so we knew Kerner when he was an 18U player. He kept in touch with everyone, and when he moved to the junior level, he reached out. Everyone really loved playing for him. He made the seasons so much fun, and it was a no-brainer to play for him.”
Wescoe, along with Rockets teammate Finnegan Sayers had seen NCDC action with the 2019-20 Boston Junior Bruins and scored his first points there. That introduction helped him to start hot, as he had a goal and two assists in his first game for the Rockets and that started a 10-game point streak that lasted the month of October and saw him post 6-8-14 totals.
“At the start, it was a little different. It was a lot faster pace, and I was just practicing every day with a good, talented group of guys,” added Wescoe. “With all the talent we had in this league, the teams got a lot better in Tampa and made it a lot more difficult to play.”
That didn't affect Wescoe much, however, as he posted an eight-game scoring streak (and seven-game goal streak) towards the end of the season, posting an 8-3-11 line for that run.
“I was able to improve upon scoring. Our theme’s motto was ‘Destination Far Post’ - just taking everything to the net really hard,” Wescoe said. “I just worked a lot on driving to the net.”
Wescoe remains one of the top uncommitted players in the NCDC, and he hopes to find his NCAA hockey future with another season wearing the Black and Grey of the Rockets.
“My plan for sure is to play for the Rockets,” he said. “As I said, Coach Kersner just makes it so much fun.”