Warm helps Oil Kings to WHL's Final Four 

Whistler defenceman also earns Eastern Conference humanitarian of the year honours

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ANDY DEVLIN/EDMONTON OIL KINGS - HEATING UP Whistler's Will Warm has been a major contributor for the Western Hockey Leagues Edmonton Oil Kings on and off the ice this season.
  • Photo by Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings
  • HEATING UP Whistler's Will Warm has been a major contributor for the Western Hockey League<0x2019>s Edmonton Oil Kings on and off the ice this season.

When Will Warm went down with the knee injury that kept him out of the Edmonton Oil Kings' lineup for three months, his season could very well have turned into a write-off.

But while the Whistler-raised defenceman worked hard in preparation for a return to action, Warm started an initiative called Will Warms the Community, where he worked closely with the local Ronald McDonald House, while also visiting the Glenrose Rehabilitation Clinic and Stollery Children's Hospital. He also packaged teddy bears for delivery within the community after the Oil Kings' annual Teddy Bear Toss Game, and organized a team visit to Canadian Blood Services after an Oil Kings staffer's family member was in a serious car accident. For his efforts, he was named as the Eastern Conference's Humanitarian of the Year and is up against Western Conference nominee Jared Dmytriw of the Vancouver Giants for the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy, which will be presented May 1.

"I was a little bit surprised when I found out, but it's a huge honour. I'm really proud and excited to receive that award," he said.

Warm's most consistent work was with the Ronald McDonald House, which hosts families of sick children who are in town for medical treatment. Warm was most commonly found at the home's Thursday craft nights, which he attended eight times throughout the year, while also attending a Christmas celebration in December.

"It started early in the season when I was out with a long(-term) knee injury," he said. "I got together with the team and we decided it would be a good idea for me to do something else when I'm not playing. With the team, I landed on Ronald McDonald House. I'd heard of their work before. They do amazing work, so I wanted to see what it was like."

Warm held a discharge party for a young boy named Carter who underwent three spinal surgeries. As well, he and his teammates also put aside six tickets to each home game for a family to come cheer on the Oil Kings. After each game, Warm held a meet and greet with the families and autographed swag for the children.

"I wanted to do more for them," he said. "They're able to get a break from what's going on in their lives. I learned so much working with the Ronald McDonald House. There are a lot of amazing people there."

Additionally, Warm and his teammates started rounding up their broken sticks to donate to Peyton's Project, founded by a young boy who has had three brain surgeries.

On the ice, the Oil Kings have enjoyed a bounce-back season. A year after finishing last in the Central Division, missing the playoffs by 25 points, Edmonton won the division and stayed hot in the postseason, defeating the Medicine Hat Tigers in six games before sweeping the rival Calgary Hitmen in four straight games. They'll face the Prince Albert Raiders starting on April 19.

"Us and Calgary is a huge rivalry, so being able to play them in the second round, we were all really excited. We went out and played hard every night," he said.

Warm's role on the blue line had shifted in his three years with the team. After scoring nine goals as a rookie, he tallied just one last season and was limited to just two assists in 33 games this year.

However, his increasing defensive prowess has made him an invaluable part of a stingy Edmonton back end.

"One of the strengths of our team is our D corps, and we have six defencemen that can play huge minutes. That's been interesting for all six of us, trying to figure out what our role is and how we fit in," Warm said. "We've got a good thing going right now where we've got a couple guys on the power play, a few of us penalty killing and the rest of us all know that we can play five on five."

With new head coach Brad Lauer, Warm said defencemen are encouraged to jump on the rush, so long as it's done in a defensively responsible way.

Warm, who turns 20 on April 22, said it was difficult to be away from the rink when he was hurt, missing all of October, November and December. His transition back to the team, though, was as smooth as possible.

"Injuries are a huge part of sport. Being out for so long, I had to work really hard physically and mentally to make sure I was ready to come back," he said. "But we've got a great group of guys in Edmonton that really helped me out and supported me the whole time."

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