Stay tuned-in and up to date with the team as we profile all the new Humboldt Broncos who will suit up for the 2020/21 season.
When the Humboldt Broncos shipped d-man Chase Felgueiras to the Portage Terriers midway through last season, the return on the investment was undetermined until the following year. However, when those future considerations were announced, fans were happy to hear that a former SJHL #1 overall draft pick was heading to Humboldt.
Seven months following the trade on November 22nd, the Broncos faithful learned that Austen Flaman was one of the marquee pieces that Head Coach, Scott Barney was able to acquire in return. This, along with the return of Felgueiras, and the rights to forward Colton Shindle, meant the mid-season gamble was quickly looking like a savvy swing.
Emerald Park, SK native, Austen Flaman comes to the Broncos bearing with a wealth of experience. Following his first year of junior with the Yorkton Terriers, Flaman spent the next year and a half with the Nipawin Hawks, including a 44 point campaign in 2018/19. He was then sent to the Centennial Cup hosts, Portage Terriers on January 10, 2020, where the opportunity to compete against the countries’ best Jr. A teams for a national championship was taken away due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone was pretty choked about it, especially all the 20-year-olds who were in their last season of junior,” said Flaman. “We all felt we would have been a part of something special, getting to host the National Jr. A Championships and playing in front of a home crowd, but it is what it is and was it out of all of our control.”
The 2019/20 Humboldt Broncos surprised many by securing a playoff spot while having one of the league’s youngest teams, consisting of only two 20-year-olds for the majority of the year. Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Flaman will be tasked with utilizing his experience and providing another veteran presence to a team that has championship aspirations set in their crosshairs.
“He’s a leader on and off the ice, and he wants to win a championship,” said Broncos Head Coach and GM, Scott Barney. “He was traded to Portage last year, and unfortunately, because of the COVID situation, they weren’t able to finish the season. He’s going to carry that experience and desire to win over to the Broncos this year. He wants to finish his career with a championship. We’ll see what happens, obviously, the puck hasn’t dropped yet, but he’s been great through our short time in camp here, and we look forward to seeing what he can bring when we get into real game situations.”
Flaman will be a part of the Broncos’ top-6 forward group that already consists of perennial point-per-game player Luke Spadafora, BCHL’er Chase Nameth, former QMJHL’er Stephane Huard, and two proven goal-scorers in Logan Kurki and 2016 #1 overall pick, Tristan Shewchuk. Game in and game out, this crop of talent should provide Barney and the Broncos with a bevy of options for offense.
“Austen obviously has those three years of experience already under his belt which is huge,” said Barney. “He played in Nipawin before so we’ve seen quite a bit of him. He’s going to bring some offense for us and he’s such a versatile player that we can line him up down the middle or along the wing.”
That versatility, combined with the talent level of his teammates, will look to take some of the game-day pressure and attention he receives from opposition teams away from Flaman, allowing the playmaking forward to blossom in the Broncos system. Being a former first overall pick, this isn’t uncharted territory. Expectations and pressure to produce have followed him from Yorkton to Nipawin, across to Manitoba, and back into Humboldt. Expectations that Flaman said he’s kept composed and doesn’t let deter away from his style of game.
“I didn’t feel too much extra pressure from it really in my rookie season, mainly just tried to stick to my game. I try to go and play not too high or too low, emotionally. I was just going to do what I can with my game and help contribute. The way I’d describe my game is a playmaking forward who uses his speed and agility to create plays for myself and my teammates.”
With over 150 games played across two leagues and three teams, time will tell if it’s the fourth year and fourth team that will grant the goal of a championship banner, thus culminating in a grand finale to Flaman’s junior hockey career. For Flaman, the desire to win trumps anything else, and with what happened in Portage, its safe to say the fire is burning to bring a trophy back to Humboldt.
“It definitely is. In Portage we were shooting for the league title, as well as the Centennial, so not getting a chance at either of those really lights a fire under you to want to make something of this 20-year-old- season and get a chance to experience something like that.”