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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 20:46

Broncos' picks pleased: first and foremost

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

Brycen Martin couldn’t have asked for a better early birthday present than what he received from the Swift Current Broncos May 5.

Just four days before his 15th birthday, the Calgary, Alta., native was on top of the world when the Broncos selected him second overall in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.

“We really liked the fact that the Swift Current Broncos have a really good academic side, having the team that won the scholastic team award this year, having the guy (Adam Lowry) as runner up to the scholastic player of the year and an assistant coach (Darren Evjen) as a former school teacher made it very interesting,” said Martin, a six-foot-one, 160-pound defenceman. “I want to keep my grades up so it’s good to hear.

“My mom really wanted me to look into the NCAA, but I had nothing to it and I told her I’d keep my grades up and hopefully play in the WHL.”

Martin, who scored six goals and recorded 36 assists in 31 games with the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League’s Calgary Bisons last season, was ranked as one of the top three prospects in the draft. After conversations with the Broncos and Calgary Hitmen, the 15-year-old believed he would be selected first or second overall.

Martin knows there will be a lot of pressure on him when he gets to Swift Current for being drafted so high, but the defenceman who wants to run the Broncos’ power play one day is used to high expectations.

With his team down by three goals with seven minutes left during a game in his first year with the Bantam Bisons, Martin never came off the ice, working the point on a five-on-three power play for part of it. Despite receiving a seven-minute shift, the Bisons managed to tie the game.

“There was a lot of pressure doing that, obviously being a first-year that year having to play a lot and having some of the older guys who could have done a good job too not getting the chance,” said Martin, who is hoping to make the midget AAA Buffaloes next season. “It was really hard to show them that I deserved that role.”

Knowing Martin was coming to Swift Current made the Broncos’ other first-round draft pick, Zach Gonek, even more excited about being taken by the WHL club.

Gonek, a six-foot-one, 185 defenceman from Sturgeon County, Alta., is friends with Martin and believes the two offensive defencemen will be able to work well together once they’re eligible to play in the WHL.

“It’s really exciting. It will be cool because I’ll actually know somebody down there,” said Gonek, who scored nine goals and recorded 13 assists in 28 games with the St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres in the AMBHL last season. “I didn’t think that would ever happen.”

Like Martin, Gonek took the day off school to watch the draft on his computer. When he saw his name pop up as the 13th overall selection, he was filled with joy.

“I was really excited. I can’t really say how to explain it,” he said. “Dad gave me a hug and everything. It was just a good moment.”

Gonek also hopes he’ll be able to show off his offensive talents in the WHL, but he knows his primary role will be being solid in his defensive zone.

Regardless of his future role, Gonek was enjoying the moment after getting drafted and thinking of the prospect of playing with his friend who was taken second. He plans on enjoying Swift Current.

“(After I was drafted) I looked around and at Swift Current and everything. It looks like a fun town and it’s hockey, so it will be a good thing for me,” said Gonek.

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