Johnny Elias is set to join the University of Michigan-Dearborn Wolversines. Fernie Ghostriders/Fernie Free Press image
Growing up in Whitehorse, Johnny Elias never imagined playing college hockey anywhere far from home, nevermind the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Having teammates Gavin Lawrie and Dylan Defosse makes it easier, because he’s leaned on and looked up to both.
“In addition to all of that, I do not have a chance at any of this without the help of my parents, family (including billet family Jan and Rob Baker), and (minor hockey/to this day) coaches Martin Lawrie and Jakob Jirousek,” says Elias, who also appreciates the support from the community of Old Crow, Yukon. “First and foremost, I have to give a lot of credit to Jeff Wagner and the Fernie Ghostriders for what they have done for me. Revitalized my hockey career. Their constant devotion to developing and moving players on whilst maintaining a top-tier organization is unprecedented in the KIJHL.”
Elias realized the Wolverines program was the place for him following discussions with coach Chris Haltinner, and some of the research done afterwards with the school’s reputation.
“He has done a tremendous job recruiting and building a first-class program, which we could see right out of the gate,” says Elias. “The fact that they are in the hunt for a national championship year after year didn’t hurt the case either.”
This season with the Ghostriders, Elias had 19 goals and 51 points in 52 games – good for third on the team. Elias felt he played well, improving as the season went on.
“I still have so much more to give to that place,” says Elias of Fernie, where he will start the 2020-21 season. “A big thing was that the coaches trusted me early and gave me opportunities that I ran with.”
Elias improved mentally, focusing on what makes him good, along with what works for him day in and day out, maturing and growing as a player and a person. Finding confidence was also key as he believed in himself. That confidence had disappeared.
In 100 career regular season and playoff games, Elias, 19, has 27 goals and 67 points.