Seven years ago, Devin Buffalo left Flin Flon as the greatest goalie in modern Bomber history. Now, he’s coming back to teach his successors.
Buffalo has officially been hired by the Bombers to be the team’s goalie coach, according to an announcement by the team August 21.
“We are very excited to bring Devin back as our goalie coach. His experience playing at a high level and earning a Division I scholarship as a Bomber will greatly benefit our players and organization,” said Bombers head coach and general manager Mike Reagan in a team-issued news release. Reagan recruited Buffalo to the Bombers’ program and coached him during his time up north.
“Devin is very well respected and knows what it means to be a Bomber. Welcome back Buff!”
Buffalo arrived in Flin Flon as a mostly unheralded goalie with the Leduc Oil Kings U18 AAA program. All he did on his arrival was start for the Bombers for three straight seasons, earn an Ivy League scholarship, win the SJHL’s Rookie of the Year award and become, with no dispute, the best backstop the Bombers have had in decades.
“Flin Flon has a special place in my heart. Mike and the Bombers not only helped me develop on the ice but I learned how to be a leader off the ice too. I hope to give back to the community and the team in any way I can. I look forward to working with the goaltenders and I’m excited to return to the team,” said Buffalo in the team news release.
In his last season in maroon and white - interrupted by a trade to the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons - Buffalo put up an eye-popping .940 save percentage. At those numbers, if the Bombers allowed 30 shots in a game, Buffalo would have saved at least 28.
After aging out of junior, Buffalo played four seasons with the Dartmouth Big Green, serving as the team’s top choice goalie in his junior and senior seasons. At Dartmouth, Buffalo was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award as NCAA most valuable player as a senior and was nominated for the NCAA’s Hockey Humanitarian Award for his work with Indigenous youth. In the 2017 offseason, Buffalo helped coordinate the North American Indigenous Games, World Indigenous Games and Alberta Indigenous Games - the latter two events taking place in his home province.
A brief run in the minors followed Buffalo’s four seasons in Dartmouth - in his one pro season, Buffalo played for no fewer than six teams, including a loan spell with the AHL’s Utica Comets where he dressed but did not play. An injury caused by a car accident after that pro season ended Buffalo’s pro hopes.
Since he hung up his pads for the last time, Buffalo’s taken on perhaps the most important challenge of his career. Buffalo, a member of the Samson Cree Nation, opened up Waniska Athletics in 2020, a company that covers hockey camps and speaking engagements, including promoting and assisting Indigenous players. Waniska, a Cree word, translates into English as “awakening”.
Buffalo holds a political science degree from Dartmouth and has been accepted into the University of Alberta’s law school.
The Bombers also announced the hiring of two new team scouts August 21, adding Mitch Van Teeling and Travis Baber to the team’s scouting staff.
Van Teeling, a former standout player with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings originally from Brandon, will be tasked with covering prospects from southern Ontario. After playing four seasons of junior A hockey out west, Van Teeling moved to Toronto, where he played three seasons of USports hockey with the York Lions - Van Teeling now lives in Windsor.
Van Teeling played his U18 hockey with the Brandon AAA Wheat Kings, alongside current Bomber assistant coach and assistant general manager Cole McCaig.
“I’ve known Mitch for over 10 years now and I’ve always respected the way he views the game,” said McCaig.
Baber will be part of the Bombers’ Saskatchewan scout crew, joining existing Bomber scout Tyler Dancy and head scout Jon Klassen, who is based in Martensville. Baber, who is based out of Regina, played briefly for the Nipawin Hawks in 2012. Baber first made contact with the Bombers, according to McCaig, at the team’s recent summer camp in Saskatoon.
“We can already tell he’s going to go above and beyond to help us find the next generation of talent,” said McCaig.
The Bombers’ scouting staff currently consists of Klassen, Dancy, Van Teeling, Baber and three others - B.C. scout Hayden-James Berra, Manitoba scout Mark Patton and Alberta scout Shane Thompson.