Coach Scott Barney is looking at the new season much the same way as his charges in the Broncos stable - with great anticipation. There’s a new crop of rookies in to support the veterans as the pre-season campaign kicks off tonight, Friday, September 2. All in all, Head Coach Barney sees potential in what he knows will be a challenging season.
“We had a great offseason,” says Barney, “Players are excited to be back here in Humboldt, and we’ve probably had the most competitive camp here in the five years I’ve been here - lots of players competing for spots, lots of young guys pushing our veteran players. I know they’re all excited here to get the exhibition games going.”
Last year’s goaltending phenom Rayce Ramsay has departed, but Barney feels the team is on the right track in talent development with newcomers between the pipes. We have (Benjamin) Motew who’s from Chicago in; we have Mason Lobreau from Manitoba, both rookies. We also just brought in Tristan Boileau from the QMJHL who played 25 games. All three are very capable goalies. Obviously last year, with Rayce Ramsay, it’s pretty hard to duplicate that, but we’re pretty happy with the two eighteen year olds and one nineteen year old.”
Humboldt relied on a powerful forward attack last year as well. The departure of some key veterans for other leagues and varsity opportunities means there’s room for the new acquisitions to step forward.
“We had a bit of a different identity upfront. We had a lot of 200 foot players, guys with a little grit who can skate but can play at both ends of the ice. We lost some goal-getters, and with McGrath and Perkins on net who are both still pretty young. In the end, it looks good on our program pushing guys to the next level, and we’re happy for their efforts.”
Barney says the remaining veterans are anxious to step into those roles, and the exhibition season is a great time to watch that evolution. He says it makes for tough decisions as the team pares its roster for the regular season, but he’s confident that the upfront play during the openers will help dictate who remains with the squad.
Barney sees a competitive season upcoming with strong squads like Estevan, Melfort, Flin Flon, and Battlefords always a threat.
“I think Battlefords has the most returning players, and they were a top team last year, so they should be right up there. For ourselves, we’ll have a competitive team, and it’ll be exciting for the fans to see.
The Broncos’ preseason starts with a trip to Nipawin tonight followed by the season debut on Saturday at the Elgar Petersen Arena. Season tickets are on sale, and if you pick them up right away, they’ll include all the exhibition home games. It’s the best time to pick them up from the Humboldt Broncos Box Office or online at humboldtbroncos.com.
All the excitement of high energy SJHL hockey is back!