Thursday, 19 January 2012 08:58

Teammates enjoy big move from Vancouver to Swift Current

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By Matthew Liebenberg — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Two former Vancouver Giants teammates are able to carry on their friendship after both were traded to the Swift Current Broncos a day apart.

Forward Levi Bews was the first one to pack his bags when the Broncos acquired him on Jan. 9 from the Giants in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

A day later, on the final day of the WHL trade deadline for the 2011-12 season, it was defenceman Eric Walker’s turn to leave Vancouver for the prairies. He was acquired in exchange for an eight-round pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

“It’s definitely a bonus,” Bews said.”It makes it a lot easier.”

Walker said he was excited when he found out he was also coming to Swift Current.

“We hang out quite a bit,” he said.

For both of them there were some familiar faces in the Broncos dressing room. Although not at the same time, they have played minor hockey with the Notre Dame Hounds, where Walker played with Daniel Dale and Bews with Shea Howorko.

Both players had no problem with moving from the big city of Vancouver to Swift Current. The 17-year-old Bews is a 6’1”, 189 lbs. product from Longview, Alta.

“It’s a good small town, like back home,” he said about Swift Current. “I enjoy the small centres. There’s not so much traffic and hustle and bustle.”

The 18-year-old, 6’2”, 200 lbs. Walker is from Castlegar, B.C., which is a city of just over 7,000 people.

“I was never too much of a big city guy,” he said.

He played with the Trail Smoke Eaters in the BCHL for the past two seasons. During the 2010-11 season he played 53 games for them, scoring four goals and seven assists. He accepted a scholarship to the University of Michigan, but then decided to focus on playing in the WHL.

Walker was listed by the Giants when he went undrafted in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft. He joined the team in November, just in time for their two-week road trip to Saskatchewan. He described his time with the Giants as a good introduction to the WHL.

“They’re pretty intense with Don Hay running them,” he said.

After his time in the BCHL the style of play in the WHL was noticeably different.

“The guys are all bigger and tougher,” he noted.

He felt he adapted well to the way the game is played in the WHL.

“I think as long as I play how I like to play, it’s usually pretty good. I just keep it strong and simple.”

With the deadline approaching, he realized there was a good chance he would be traded.

“I knew we had too many d-men,” he said. “I told them I wouldn’t be against moving to get a bigger role.”

He is confident the move to Swift Current will provide him with an opportunity to play a larger role with the Broncos, which was looking for a physical defenceman that can fit in with their more aggressive style.

During his first two games last weekend he used his size effectively around the net. His fight against Locke Muller towards the end of the Broncos’ 4-1 loss against the Saskatoon Blades on Jan. 13 was his third fight of the season.

For Bews, the move to Swift Current also holds the possibility to play a greater role in the team.

“I see this as a great opportunity to improve myself as a player and help the team get into the playoffs and make a run for it,” he said.

He played 52 games for the Saskatoon Blades during the 2010-11 season, scoring three goals and four assists. He only played four games for the Blades this season before being traded to Vancouver. He played 34 games for the Giants, scoring three goals and five assists.

“Don Hay is a great coach, an unbelievable guy,” he said. “He wanted to make you work hard in practice and he expected it in the game too.”

He described his trade to the Broncos as a bit of a surprise, but also not completely unexpected.

“They had told me when I got there that I’ll probably fit in there long term, but at the same time they were carrying an extra line of forwards,” he explained. “It’s great to be coming to Swift Current and to be able to grow as a hockey player.”

The Giants reassigned him to the Okotoks Oilers of the AJHL only a few days before his trade to the Broncos.

“They told me I would probably get scratched a couple of games out there,” he said. “So they wanted me to develop a little bit more and then when Swift called me on the way home, I was more than happy to come out here.”

In the press release to announce the trade, Broncos Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel Jamie Porter described Bews as a big body, power forward who fits well into the age group they are looking to improve.

“I’m a good shot and ready to play the body at any time,” Bews said about his style of play. “I won’t go out there looking to fight, but if something goes wrong on the ice, if somebody gets it from behind, I’m willing to stick up for a teammate.”

He is always trying to improve his game but especially his stride and speed on the ice.

“The speed of the game is increasing at each level, so you got to always work on your skating,” he said.

He played his first two games for the Broncos last weekend. His physical style was useful during the team’s 4-0 win against the Red Deer Rebels Jan. 14.

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