Photo Credit: Russ Alman/WildHockeyPhotos.com
WENATCHEE, Wash. – Travis Bohnet scored only one goal in his final season of junior hockey, but his big moment could not have gotten his team off to a better start to the year.
Bohnet’s lone goal in 2022-23 was the first of the year for the Wenatchee Wild, 50 seconds into the second period of the season opener in Surrey, helping to kick off a 28-win campaign that saw the team march to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2019. For the strapping defenseman from Airdrie, Alberta, this season was about far more than putting up a few numbers to show off.
“I pride myself on blocking shots, and being a shutdown guy against the top forwards on opposing teams in this league,” said Bohnet. “I talked with the coaching staff, and I’d love to score a lot of goals, but at the end of the day, I know I’m good at defending, and that’s a role that I really pride myself on and I want to get better at every day.”
Bohnet didn’t have to go far from home to learn the sport, growing up just a short commute north of Calgary (though he considers the Penguins to be his favorite team, not the hometown Flames). After skating at the age of 3 and cutting his teeth on the outdoor rinks of southwestern Alberta alongside his brother and his dad, he came up through his hometown Airdrie Minor Hockey Association before spending a couple of years in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League with the Edge School in Calgary.
The first junior appearance came in a Spruce Grove Saints uniform, but the 2019-20 season was spent just over an hour from home, helping to lead the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Drumheller Dragons to a 37-win season and a five-game opening-round series win over the Olds Grizzlies in the AJHL playoffs.
Then, COVID made its way onto the scene, ending the 2019-20 playoffs. The 2020-21 season barely got off the ground – in fact, his Dragons played in just two games, with Bohnet appearing in only one – before the season was halted again in mid-November. By the time the season resumed in mid-March, he’d long since headed south.
“I was fortunate to have a really good advisor, and we were shut down in Alberta. No one was playing games – we couldn’t even practice with our teams,” said Bohnet. “I was looking for options to just get on the ice, so he mentioned there was a team down in Atlanta that needed some practice players, and I could possibly play some games with them. I signed a contract with them and played down there in the [USPHL] – it was a really good experience. I got to work with a high-end coach, and it was fun living down there in the South.”
That run with the Atlanta Mad Hatters also offered Bohnet a chance to post some solid offensive numbers, with four goals and nine assists in a 17-game run. After a year across the continent from home, though, Wenatchee came calling, and the team cut a deal just weeks before the season to bring him into the Wolves Den.
“I had some talks with [my advisor] in the summer, and I wasn’t necessarily feeling like where I was, was the right fit,” said Bohnet. “He mentioned Wenatchee, and I searched them up and was pretty impressed with what they do and how they do things here.”
While the numbers in Wenatchee weren’t eye-popping, the physical 6’6″ blueliner made life plenty difficult for BCHL forwards over his two-year run with the Wild. Bohnet closed out a five-point season last year by making his 100th junior appearance, and tacked on six more points this year as one of three 2002-born players on the Wild roster.
“The first thing I think of when I think of Travis was how hyped up he would get our guys before every game,” said Wenatchee head coach Chris Clark. “I’m sure people could hear him from down the hall. He always brought a ton of energy and enthusiasm to the rink. He was a great competitor and did a lot of jobs that don’t get thanked enough. He was always physical and willing to step in front of the opposition’s shots to help our team win.”
Though he closed out his junior career without a college commitment locked in at year’s end, he left Wenatchee with plenty of options for 2023-24, and some dreams to follow after his playing career wraps up.
“I’m interested in being a firefighter,” said Bohnet. “My dad is a firefighter, so he’s a huge idol to me and I look up to him, so that’s definitely something I’m interested in. I do have a passion for fishing, so maybe [I’ll be] a fishing guide, maybe right here in the Valley. I do love the outdoors, and it’s cool to live in a place where you can utilize that all year-round. You never know.”