HUMBOLDT — Hometown Humboldt Broncos rookie defenceman Noah Barlage’s passion for the game of hockey was very evident when he was growing up.
“Noah just loves hockey,” said Jonathon Barlage, who coached him for many seasons and is his uncle. “During hockey season, he always wanted to be at the rink working at getting better and any spare time he had was spent on the outdoor rink at the farm. He made it easy and enjoyable to be his coach all those years. That passion for hockey wore off on all his friends and teammates as well.”
It also is a key reason why Broncos head coach Scott Barney sees a bright future for Barlage. As a 16-year-old, Barlage has earned not only a roster spot on the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League club but also a role that has expanded during the season.
“Noah has got a lot of passion and drive for the game,” Barney said. “I think he’s got a great career ahead of him. We love having him here in Humboldt. I think the sky’s the limit for him. The amount of work he puts into it, you can see him being a future star in this league.”
As of Sunday, the 6-foot-1, 182-pound Barlage had a goal and seven points in 38 games. His goal came on the powerplay in a win over Estevan in November.
“Noah has been great... He gets better everyday,” Barney said. “He works hard. He does everything we ask of him as a coaching staff.”
In an interview before last week’s games, the Broncos bench boss said that Barlage has been one of the team’s top four or five defencemen in the last month. He noted that Barlage has moved himself up the depth chart since the beginning of the season. He and teammate Karter McNarland, a forward, are the only two 16-year-olds who have been competing with their SJHL for the whole season.
“As a young kid, sometimes it takes a little time to get adjusted, especially for a league known as a 19 and 20-year-old league... Noah has done a tremendous job,” Barney said. “He doesn’t back down from anybody any night. He has played against the other team’s top players and does a great job battling and competing. Definitely you wouldn’t be able to guess his age out there by the way of his play.”
Of moving up to the Junior A level, Barlage said the biggest adjustment was to how much faster and stronger the players are. He is greatly enjoying his time with his hometown squad.
“The best part is I grew up watching the Broncos and have always wanted to play for them,” he said. “I also really like that the school, arena and gym are all connected so I can work out most days and skate every day.”
Barlage also gets to compete in a high level of hockey in front of friends and family. This includes, of course, his parents Carla and Michael, who have long supported his hockey career.
“My dad has always coached me and done lots of extra skill development with me and my mom is always positive and supports me,” said Barlage, whose father played in the Western Hockey League and the professional ECHL.
Barlage found his passion for hockey and developed his game while playing for the Humboldt Minor Hockey Association. He played his way through bantam AA for his hometown organization while demonstrating skill on both ends of the rink.
Jonathon Barlage, who was a defensive defenceman in the SJHL, including for the Broncos, said he appreciated how good his nephew’s positioning and stick work were in the defensive zone. On the other end of the ice, Barlage impressed his coach with his poise with the puck.
“He never tries to force a play that isn’t there and rarely turns the puck over,” Jonathon Barlage said. “At a young age, I was always impressed with how intelligent he was.”
As well, the younger Barlage displayed a creative side.
“At 10 years old, Noah was already faking slap shots and passes and doing head fakes to deceive the opposition,” Jonathon Barlage said. “When he was little, I always got a chuckle when he did that kind of stuff.”
After his second bantam AA season, in 2018, Barlage was a seventh-round draft pick of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League. It is in that league where his older brother Logan currently plays for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. This past October, Noah Barlage’s rights were swapped to the Red Deer Rebels. Back in 2018, he also was chosen in the fourth round of the SJHL Draft by the Kindersley Klippers. Shortly after the draft, the Broncos made deal to bring Barlage’s rights home.
Before moving to the SJHL, Barlage spent a season playing for Caronport’s Prairie Hockey Academy in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. Micah Abbott, PHA’s assistant for hockey operations, said that Barlage was an instrumental part of the academy’s Elite 15s squad.
“He quarterbacked our power play unit and had one of the league's most powerful and accurate shots,” Abbott said. “At even strength, Noah was a big solid defender who was able to close on opposing players with ease and threw out game changing body checks. Noah is a very mobile and intelligent player who has the ability to read the other teams forecheck, evade opposing players, and move the puck to his open teammates.
“Most importantly, Noah is a young man who displays excellent character, always willing to put in extra work or go the extra mile for his team and teammates.”