As the Wenatchee Wild continue to prepare for the coming 2021-22 season, they’ve taken another step toward building their roster by welcoming goaltender Andy Vlaha.
Vlaha is from Snohomish, WA, about a half hour drive north of Seattle. His inspiration to play hockey came from his father who grew up playing the game in the Czech Republic, but his passion for goaltending came from his brother. “I started off as a player but my older brother was a goalie and I tried the position when I was five after watching him and I fell in love with being a goalie ever since.” He adds, “My favorite part about being a goalie is making a big save when the game is on the line which helps my team win.”
Wild Head Coach Chris Clark: “We are very excited to have Andy coming back to Wenatchee next season. Being from Washington, we have had the opportunity to watch Andy grow the past couple years as a goalie and person. He understands the position and has a great mix of athleticism and technique. We feel Andy will be a very good NCAA Division I goalie after his junior hockey career here in Wenatchee.”
At 5’10 and 145 lbs., Vlaha relies on quickness more than size. His favorite NHL goalie is Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay) who is noted for his great balance, flexibility, and mental composure. In developing his dexterity, Vlaha’s become rather adept at juggling. And while the NHL’s expansion Seattle Kraken have yet to sign a single player, they have earned a spot in Vlaha’s heart as he’s already amassed a nice collection of logoed Kraken memorabilia.
Wenatchee Associate Head Coach Leigh Mendelson: “We’ve had the opportunity to watch Andy for the past 3 years and he has continued to improve each time we see him play. He skated with us last season as an Affiliated Player and participated in our extended preseason camp at the start of this year. Andy has very good hockey sense and athleticism, and we expect him to be one of the best goaltenders to come out of Washington State in a long time – we are very excited about having him back in the Fall.”
He’s currently in Utica, NY playing for the Utica Jr. Comets of the NCDC after honing his skills with the Jr. Thunderbirds in Seattle for the last couple of years. Vlaha is looking forward to his time in Wenatchee. “I’m very excited to meet more fans as I was fortunate enough to interact with a few fans during the extended training camp and they’re kind people that love hockey.”
Wild GM Bliss Littler: “Andy came into camp this October and impressed everyone with his strong play. We expect that Andy will be a very sought-after college prospect next year.”
When he arrives in Wenatchee, he has a set goal in mind. “I hope to grow on and off the ice as a person and to help out the younger goalies in the youth programs.” Thinking longer term, “My long-term goal is to play NCAA D1 hockey and study to become a forester or a job that helps with the environment.”