Former Kamloops Blazers defenceman hits the ice with the Anaheim Ducks

Mighty defenceman plays with some Mighty Ducks.

Olen Zellweger, the CHL’s Defenceman of the Year, recently made his NHL debut. In 2023, Zellweger was part of the big trade that the Kamloops Blazers made with the Everett Silvertips.

Zellweger started his hockey journey in Calgary, Alberta. Being influenced by his siblings, he started playing from a young age.

“It just ran in the family. My siblings played hockey. I grew up next to a lake, and we would play hockey [every] winter,” Zellweger told the Omega.

In 2018, at 15 years old, Zellweger was drafted by the Everett Silvertips, making his debut with the team at the beginning of the 2019-2020 regular season. Overall, Zellweger played 148 games for the Silvertips, scoring 28 goals and 103 assists. During his tenure with the team, Zellweger earned his big break when he was drafted 34th overall in the NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks.

Still, Zellweger had to pay his junior league dues before getting a shot at the pro level. Near the end of his final WHL season, Zellweger was traded from Everett to the Kamloops Blazers. Although he would enjoy a relatively short stint with the team–only 32 games in total–Zellweger would amass 22 goals and earn 30 assists.

“It was an easy process of adapting to Kamloops. They were welcoming to me. We had a good team and coaching staff, so it made it easier for me to transition over.”

Blazers management added the star defenceman to bolster their roster for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament, which they hadn’t hosted or participated in since 1995. Although the Blazers were the first team to drop out of the tournament, Zellweger was named the team’s MVP.

“The overall experience was really good. It’s an amazing event to be a part of. I’m still a little disappointed with how it all went down.”

Following his time in Kamloops, Zellweger turned 20 years old and his junior career had ended. Now, he was ready for the pros. The dynamic defenseman kicked off the 2023-24 season with the Anaheim Ducks’s AHL affiliate team, the San Deigo Gulls.

“It’s a big step [transitioning from junior to pro], but I don’t think it’s been a huge change. There’s a difference. Different calibre players here, definitely more skill and strong players.”

Zellweger represented San Diego at the 2024 AHL All-Star games.

“It was awesome. It’s a lot of fun to be in an event like that. You get to meet a lot of new people, a lot of new players that you’ve never met around the league. Overall it was a great experience for me.”

On Jan. 23, he had his official NHL debut against the Buffalo Sabers. Anaheim won 4-2 and Zellweger got a point for an assist.

“It was amazing. I had some family there to watch me. That [was] a dream … to play in the NHL and my first game this year is pretty special. The game felt pretty good, the team played well and it was good to get a win.”