Humboldt Broncos defence builds a strong foundation for playoff success

HUMBOLDT — With talented scorers up front and impressive goaltending behind it, the Humboldt Broncos blue line corps sometimes doesn’t get a lot of attention.

However, there is no question the Broncos defencemen have played a big role in the team’s success this season. They certainly will be a factor in sixth-seeded Humboldt’s Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff series against No. 3 Estevan, which starts on the road this weekend for the Broncos.

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“We have a great mix of younger and older players who have made a commitment to getting better each and every day and are a huge part of our success,” Humboldt head coach Scott Barney said of his defencemen.

The Humboldt D-corps focuses on doing its job and not worrying about who gets the credit.

“The best thing about being a D-man is stopping the other team from scoring and to move the pucks up to the forwards,” said 20-year-old defenceman Mark Edmands. “I think it’s fun to defend and then get the pucks to the forwards and let them do most of the scoring.”

The last two seasons Edmands suited up for the Estevan Bruins.

He came to Humboldt just before the season started to fulfill Estevan’s commitment in a previously held SJHL dispersal draft that was necessary to help the Broncos rebuild their roster after the April 6 bus crash that claimed 16 lives.

“Obviously, I’m looking forward to playing them because they’re my old team … I have a lot of buddies on Estevan,” Edmands said. “It’s always fun going back there to play in their rink and I’ve had a lot of good memories there.”

He has enjoyed his time on the Humboldt blue line. Edmands said all of the defencemen are smart players who bring something different to the table. From their two 20-year-old defencemen, Edmands and Josh Patrician, the Broncos have received leadership and experience. They have helped a D-corps featuring three players in their 18-year-old season, one in his 17-year-old campaign, and a 16-year-old.

“Getting guys like Josh and Mark to come in early in the season really helped our young core not only come together but also learn a few things from the older vets,” said 18-year-old Chase Felgueiras, a Calgary product in his second junior season “Josh [Patrician] has taught me a lot about quarterbacking the power play as well as more little things on the offensive side of the game, whereas Mark has taught me more things about the defensive side of the game. I hope the first-year guys learned from not only our two 20-year-olds but me as well.”

Patrician has been an offensive catalyst for the Broncos on the backend. The Calgary product led the team’s defencemen with seven goals, 32 assists and 39 points in 58 games.

He often is paired with Colin MacPherson, who also hails from Calgary. MacPherson was acquired from the Alberta Junior Hockey League partway through this season. He has six points in 25 games.

“Playing with Colin has been a pleasure of mine because he brings a very sound defensive game to the table and has a very hard shot,” Patrician said. “He is someone I can trust that every shift he is going to make the right play that helps our team and me.”

On an SJHL podcast, Barney referred to Edmands as “Steady Eddie.” Hailing from Regina, the veteran had a career-high 20 points this season.

He is usually teamed up with Felgueiras.

“Being able to play with Mark for the majority of the season has not only helped me develop, but gave me the confidence to try new things knowing he would be behind me if I turned it over,” Felgueiras said.

A big 18-year-old rangy defenceman with an offensive upside, Felgueiras had 24 points, including five goals, in 57 games. He was 176th among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. Felgueiras competed in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game this season and was invited to the Team Canada West tryout camp for the World Junior A Hockey Challenge.

Rounding out the Broncos blue line is a trio of rookies: Chase Lacombe, Kade Olsen, and Max Johnson. Patrician said that he was impressed with the youngsters’ ability to make the jump from midget to junior so smoothly and consistently. He said that it was pretty amazing to see the 16-year-old Lacombe go straight from his first year of midget to playing his first regular season junior game in the Broncos’ season opener.

“They have been very mature all year and taken everything this season has to offer and done a really great job stepping into roles that most young guys wouldn’t have an opportunity at,” Patrician said.

Lacombe, from Moose Jaw, has three assists in 45 games. Earlier this season he was signed by the Swift Current Broncos.

Saskatoon’s Olsen, who is in his 17-year-old season, had five assists in 48 regular season contests. He played five games for Humboldt as an affiliated player in 2017-2018.

Johnson hails from Grand Forks, ND. The 18-year-old had three assists in 23 games for Humboldt after being acquired from the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

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