For Brendan Budy, home is where the hockey is.
Budy is one of two 16-year-old rookies from Langley playing for their hometown Rivermen —Sean Gulka is the other.
The Rivermen’s youngest player — he’s already committed to play for the University of Denver (NCAA Div. 1) in 2019-20 — Budy couldn’t think of a better place to play than here, where he attends Langley Secondary School.
“I had a number of offers from other teams and also I had a chance to move away and play in the WHL, but I knew college was meant for me,” Budy said.
“It’s been awesome. Sixteen’s pretty young to move away so being at home has helped a lot.
“My parents [Tim and Colleen] are still there for me. They cook all my meals and drive me everywhere, so it helps to have my parents at home.
“It’s nice to play where I grew up.”
Budy is finding his way in the B.C. Hockey League after spending last season with Delta Hockey Academy. He had five goals and five assists heading into last night’s home game against the Wenatchee Wild (the game got underway after the Times went to press Thursday morning).
“I knew it was going to be faster coming into the season,” Budy said. “It took me a couple of games to get going but I feel like I’ve adjusted my game well and I’m playing at a good pace. I feel comfortable with the league, right now.”
Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson had high praise for Budy.
“I think he’s been great, considering his youth,” Henderson said.“He’s had no problem with the pace — if anything, he pushes the pace. He’s an extremely fast player and he processes the game at an elite level. He’s a skilled player and he’s fun to watch.”
Winning is something Budy has already become accustomed to in his young hockey career — he helped Delta Hockey Academy win the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) title last season.
“It was really good,” Budy said, about his experience with Delta Hockey Academy. “I played there the year before that, too, so I was familiar with it. It was a really good experience. I think we only lost three games all year.”
Fast forward to this season, and Budy feels he’s picked up his game a lot. The versatile centre/winger is on the smallish side by hockey standards, at 5’10” and a slight 170 pounds, but says he’s not afraid to mix it up in the corners and in the dirty areas.
“I’m kind of undersized so I play a skilled game usually,” Budy said. “I like to make plays and score goals but I can also bring some grit if it needs to be there. I finish hits when I get the chance and that type of stuff.”
Henderson said Budy isn’t about to be intimidated by older, larger opponents.
“There’s no back off in his game,” Henderson said. “Brendan pushes the envelope physically. He plays on the edge and he’s not a kid who’s going to be intimidated, that’s for sure.”
Budy’s personal goals are straightforward.
“I just want to get better and keep developing my game. I want to get better after every game and hopefully become a really good hockey player in this league.”
On that note, Henderson said Budy “is getting better every week.”
“We’re just seeing now what he’s capable of, and we’ll see more of the same for some time to come.”
Beset by injuries, the Rivermen have been so-so as the season passes the one-third mark.
Following a weekend split against the Surrey Eagles, they were 6-10-3-1 as of last night and sit fourth in the BCHL’s Mainland Division.
Budy believes in the team.
“I think we have an awesome team. We have a lot of really good players. We have a lot of rookies and stuff but I think we’re getting there.
“We have a really close group of guys. Everyone bonds well in the locker room and off the ice, so I think we’re going to start bringing our game [as the season wears on].”
Garrett James BCHL