It is hard for Virden’s Braeden Lewis to narrow down what he has enjoyed most about playing for the Swift Current Broncos.
“Everything about being a Bronco has been unbelievable,” the son of Dale and Tracy Lewis said. “My teammates, the competitive nature, support from fans and many other things. Being part of a team such as Swift Current with such great history is a huge honour and I hope to be part of their bright future.”
The 17-year-old, whose birthday is next month, is in his first season with the Western Hockey League club. Through Sunday, he has earned a spot in 14 of the team’s 16 games in the Subway Hub Centre in Regina.
“We have been very impressed with Braeden’s intelligence and his skill level,” said Broncos head coach and director of hockey operations Dean Brockman.“He has shown early on that we are able to trust him in all situations on the ice, which is not an easy thing for a young player to do early in their WHL career.”
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Lewis has recorded five points this season. His contributions to the Broncos are not limited to only the offensive end of the ice.
“Braeden plays a very well-rounded game and has a high hockey IQ,” Brockman said. “His ability to play in all situations of the game should serve him very well moving forward.”
Lewis scored his first WHL goal en route to recording two points in a win over the Winnipeg Ice on March 26. He noted the goal was not “one for the highlight reel but I’ll take them any way I can.”
“I remember it was a good backcheck and transition by my linemates and I attempted to make pass to the back side of the net but the hockey gods were on my side as it hit off an opponent and went in,” Lewis said. “The emotions were definitely indescribable as it was a big accomplishment for myself. Growing up watching all the stars who went through the WHL, it was a dream of mine to play in this league and to score a goal is definitely going to be a lifelong memory.”
The Broncos and the WHL’s other Saskatchewan and Manitoba teams are in a “bubble” type situation in Regina. The teams are staying at the University of Regina.
“It has been great,” Lewis said. “The hospitality that the university has offered us has been top notch and we are all very grateful for their hard work and support. We are treated like family by all the staff who are putting countless hours in to make sure all the players are at their best to play and compete.”
Due to the major junior WHL pushing back their season start date, Lewis began the 2020-2021 campaign at the Junior A level with the Virden Oil Capitals. He enjoyed playing in his hometown and said it benefitted him when he reached the WHL level.
“It definitely helped me get used to playing against older and faster players,” Lewis said. “After playing in Virden, I was able to make changes to my game that would help me be more successful in the long run. It was definitely a jump going from U18 to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, but it made the transition to the WHL much more manageable. It got me ready for the schedule as well with skating every day and usually playing back to backs on the weekends.”
In nine games, Lewis had a goal and four points with the Oil Caps.
“We very much enjoyed having Braeden spend the first part of the season with us here,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “Not only is he a hometown kid but he is a great player. He is exceptionally skilled and has great speed. Braden worked extremely hard while he was here. He was a pleasure to coach. He was a very nice compliment to our forward group, and we wish him all the best as he begins his WHL career with the Swift Current Broncos.”
Lewis’ family has had a major impact on his hockey career. In past interviews, he has praised his brother, Tanner, who played for the Oil Caps, for being a role model. Lewis also appreciates all that his parents have done for him.
“Growing up with a dream to play hockey as long as possible and at the highest level possible, it would not be attainable or even have started without the support of my parents,” he said. “They provided me with every opportunity that they could. As a kid with a dream, all you can do is hope that your parents support your goals and mine have given me that opportunity without a doubt and done much more. They come to every game they can and are always positive win or lose.
“My dad is always helping me with my game and has always been one of my biggest influences. He was the one who put me in skates at a young age and the one who introduced me to the game. And for my mom, she is always my biggest cheerleader and the best pre-game cook I could ever ask for. She is always making sure my mind and body are 100 per cent to compete and I couldn’t ask for anything more. Without them, I would not be in the position I am today and for that I cannot thank them enough.”