ECHL call-up Will Riedell making most of opportunity as short-staffed Wranglers pile up points

Photo credit:Angela Burger/Calgary Wranglers
Mike Gould
5 months ago
It’s an old adage in hockey that the quickest way for a defenceman to get noticed is to be unnoticeable.
That is to say, a defender who blends in and doesn’t make mistakes is oftentimes better suited to succeed at a higher level than one who draws attention in a negative way.
In that sense, Will Riedell is as inconspicuous as it gets — or, at least, he was until recently. The Calgary Wranglers recalled Riedell from the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush on Nov. 24, but it’s only really been the last two games in which the 27-year-old lefty has been entrusted with a larger role.
Simply put, the Wranglers are hurting on the back end. Nick DeSimone and Jordan Oesterle are up, Jeremie Poirier has been out since the second week of the season, and now both Colton Poolman and Sam Jardine are dealing with upper-body injuries.
Yes, Mark Pysyk is now in the fold, but he’s coming off a full year and change on the shelf while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. He’s still getting back up to speed.
The same six defenders dressed for the Wranglers in their games against the Abbotsford Canucks on Thursday and Friday: Ilya Solovyov, Yan Kuznetsov, Brady Lyle, Jonathan Aspirot, Pysyk, and Riedell. And wouldn’t you know it: Riedell led all of them with three assists in those two games, matching his output in that category over 32 games with the San Jose Barracuda last year.
The 6’2″ defender was instrumental in helping set up two of the Wranglers’ three goals in their overtime loss to the Canucks on Thursday, unleashing well-aimed point shots through traffic that Dryden Hunt and Cole Schwindt were able to deflect past goaltender Arturs Silovs.
“One good thing about Will is he skates really well,” Wranglers head coach Trent Cull said after Thursday’s game. “Some of the things we’ve been trying to instill in our D, it was nice to see [from him]. I call them ‘on-off shots’ — in the second period, he doesn’t stickhandle, doesn’t dust it off, just shoots the puck. Gets the puck right back, does the exact same thing, great assist.
“Same thing on the last play there with [Schwindt],” Cull went on. “I was happy with those guys, we sent them back out there for a little O-zone play. I’m glad that it worked.”
Riedell has taken a bit of an unorthodox route to end up in Calgary. He’s originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, where he grew up with his brother, Jack, an NCAA Division III goaltender.
After playing prep school hockey at Vermont Academy, Riedell spent two seasons in the NAHL — one step below the USHL — before starting out as a freshman at Lake Superior State University in 2017–18. He played four years with the Lakers before transferring to Ohio State, where he served as team captain in 2021–22.
Since then, Riedell has gone back and forth between the AHL and ECHL. Friday’s win over Abbotsford was Riedell’s 40th game in the AHL, and he’s skated in 29 ECHL games with Rapid City and the Savannah Ghost Pirates (killer name).
And while it’s been a bit of an adjustment for Riedell to live in Calgary — “I haven’t been this far north,” he said on Thursday — he’s doing what he can to stay in the rotation when guys get healthy.
After all, if the Flames move Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev, that’ll open up space for someone like Solovyov to move up — and, say, for Riedell to potentially become a regular.
“I just try to move the puck quick, play physical, and just kind of keep my game simple,” Riedell said. “All the guys on this team are great. We’ve got a really good group here.”
The Wranglers currently lead the AHL’s Western Conference with a 19–7–3 record and 41 points in 29 games this season. They’ll put their four-game point streak on the line when they return to action on New Years’ Day against the Coachella Valley Firebirds.

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