Although injuries prevented Virden’s Braeden Lewis from playing a full season for the Swift Current Broncos, he certainly had an impact on the team.
The son of Dale and Tracy Lewis received the Western Hockey League squad’s Leadership and Maturity award. The 19-year-old forward was in his first full season with the Broncos last winter.
“Braeden Lewis checks all the boxes for leadership and maturity,” Swift Current head coach head coach Devan Praught said. “He is a team first player who is well respected by his teammates and staff alike. He brings a consistent effort daily and offers an approachable demeanor to his teammates. He has a strong awareness of his personal identity as a player and respects the talents of his teammates equally. We look forward to his continued growth here in Swift Current.”
Lewis was limited to competing in 34 of the Broncos’ 68 games. He said it was hard to get into a rhythm as he never played more than 10 games in a row before being injured again. However, Lewis said his teammates helped keep him motivated and he continued to battle back to play.
“For every setback I had, my teammates were always there to keep my morale up,” he said. “Watching them battle every day in practice and in games made me always have an itch to get back and made me work that much harder to get healthy and play alongside them.”
The Broncos were pleased to have the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder in the lineup when he was available. He recorded a goal and 11 points.
“Braeden is a reliable 200-foot player who plays the game honestly,” Praught said. “He prides himself on a defence first approach, embracing shutdown roles, sacrificing on the penalty kill and taking a lot of key faceoffs as well. We have seen growth in his game contributing offensively and being rewarded with power play time as well.”
In a challenging season, Lewis appreciated the ongoing support of his family. That includes his siblings: sister Jordyn and brother Tanner.
“My family’s support cannot be put into words,” Lewis said. “Whether it’s my sister sending me pictures of my nephew in his Broncos gear before games, my brother always keeping in touch with me throughout the season, or my parents putting in countless hours of driving just to come and watch me play, they have all done so much for me and I cannot thank them enough. They are truly my biggest supporters.”
In 2020-2021, the WHL played a shortened schedule. The Manitoba and Saskatchewan squads competed in a bubble-like setting in Regina. So, this past winter was Lewis’ first true WHL regular season. He said he learned a lot about himself and the team.
“I enjoyed the closeness that our team had as a group,” Lewis said. “Nobody was ever excluded from anything, and we always did things as a family. Being able to experience a real crowd and not just fan noise through the area audio system was also special, when playing in a smaller rink like Swift Current’s and mixing that with our passionate fans it felt as if the rink was shaking every night.”
This past season was the first opportunity for Lewis to play as a Bronco in Brandon against a Wheat Kings franchise he grew up watching.
“Growing up in a small town and with the Wheat Kings only a trip down the Number 1 away, they were like celebrities to me and my friends,” he said. “My best friends and I would attend games regularly to watch guys like Brayden Schenn, Matt Calvert, and Scott Glennie. I remember players coming out to our practices when I was 6 years old and helping out and I remember always wanting to be like them. So, I was pretty excited having the chance to play in that rink with so many friends and family members in attendance to cheer me on.”
Lewis said that the people are the best part of Swift Current for him.
“Everyone is always so kind no matter where you are,” he said. “You're like a local celebrity. People are never afraid to come up and say hi or ask questions about hockey.
“My billets are also a great part about Swift. The Dawe family made my transition of moving away from home very easy. They welcomed me with open arms and warm hearts, and I cannot thank them enough for what they do for me.”
Once the hockey season is over, Lewis keeps on competing. As well as preparing for next season, he suits up for the senior Virden Oilers baseball team.
“It keeps me in a competitive mindset throughout the summer,” Lewis said. “There are so many competitive players on our team that the intensity is always high. With the wide age range on our team me and the younger guys always love learning and listening to the older guys. I think all sports help with each other. I find baseball helps most with hand eye and softness of my hands and feet working together.”