Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - Submitted by Ryan Darnley
Currently sitting ninth on the scoring league leaders and fourth amongst local players, Adelaide Adrenaline forward Wehebe Darge has carried his World Championships form into the regular AIHL season.
The 24-year old had a breakout year in national colours, piling on 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists).
Having now scored 13 goals from 12 matches and just under two points per game, Darge is on track to further cement himself as one of the most exciting local players in league.
This season has seen Darge going from strength to strength, forming a strong partnership with Canadian import Cole MacMillan and proving that the right imports can have a positive effect on the local players in the league.
Having first played for the Adrenaline as a 17-year old in 2009, this year marks Darge’s seventh in the AIHL and he has tallied 181 points with 91 goals and 90 assists in 132 games.
However, it’s his European season with Belgium’s Leuven Chiefs, where he scored 55 points (23 goals, 32 assists) in just 21 games that he credits with helping bring out the higher offensive numbers we’ve been seeing this season.
“I think playing in Belgium this past season was a very good experience for me,” Darge said. “It gave me a great chance to develop a more offensive style to my game.”
Carrying that form into the World Championship Division 2 Group B, Darge was a major driver in Australia’s gold medal.
“Being selected for the Australian National team is always a huge privilege,” Darge said. “Personally, I definitely had a point to prove but as a team I think we also had a point to prove.”
And prove a point he did, blitzing his previous national team totals, which to that point sat at 12 points across fifteen games.
With time spent in Belgium, Quebec, Alaska, Dayton, Danville and Florida; Darge has accrued plenty of travel playing hockey.
It’s possible the challenges he’s faced overseas have had a strong effect on his work rate and helped increase his points-per-game average throughout his career but he believes it’s down to more than just that.
“I think like most guys my points per game average has gone up because I've simply become more comfortable with the league,” he said. “When I was younger I'd grip the stick a little too tight and miss chances that I'm now scoring on.”
Whether through technique or overseas experience or a combination of both, the Adelaide team aren’t going to complain about having a local player matching their imports’ scoring tallies.
Darge also points to some of the experienced players in the Adrenaline side as great mentors that have really assisted in his growth and development, pointing to them as keys for the whole team, as well as himself.
“I think the veterans have been extremely important to me as young guy, as well as the whole teams’ success,” he said. “Having players like Greg Oddy and Josh Harding as mentors has been huge for my personal success.”
Adelaide’s struggles early this year have been well-documented with the near-closure of the main ice in Thebarton, but Darge still holds hope for his side to climb the standings.
Both personally and collectively as a member of the Adrenaline team, Darge has some definite goals in mind.
“Obviously the team goal this year is to hold that Cup above our heads at the end of the season,” said Darge. “For me personally, I'd really like to prove that I can back up the offensive season I had last year and increase my PPG average.”
Darge and the Adrenaline will be back in action this weekend against the Melbourne Ice where the ladder leaders will no doubt be wary of the young star.