When Flin Flon Bombers forward Brandson Hein heads over the boards, there is always a chance a red light will come on soon.
The 20-year-old from Winnipeg ranked in the top four in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in both points and goals, as of Sunday. He is very dangerous on special teams. Hein paced the league in both power-play goals and shorthanded goals.
“He’s got an amazing shot, one of the best one timers I’ve coached,” said Bombers veteran head coach Mike Reagan. “He brings a threat to our lineup and a guy you have to worry about whenever he’s on the ice.”
Hein, who is in his 20-year-old season, had 40 goals so far this season – second in the SJHL to the 46 Melfort’s Justin Ball had scored - as of Sunday. In addition, Hein was second on the Bombers and fourth in the league in points with 68. What has allowed him to put up points?
“I think just giving my all is important to my recipe for success,” Hein said. “I stay most consistent when I don’t get frustrated, forget about pressure, and just play. I also can’t wrap it up without giving credit to my linemates. They do a great job of getting me the puck and giving me the best chance to score.”
He has played with various linemates during this season. Since joining the Bombers at the trade deadline last season, Hein has displayed great chemistry with Nate Hooper, his former Winnipeg midget AAA teammate and current business partner in H&H Snow Removal. When Hein scored two goals against Notre Dame last Friday, Hooper, who had a team-high 75 points through the weekend, and newcomer Cade Kowalski recorded the assists.
One of those goals was on the power play – where Hein has been extremely effective this season. He has an SJHL-best 14 power-play goals, as of the weekend.
When the other team has the man advantage, Hein has proven he can quickly turn it into a disadvantage. He led the league with five shorthanded goals. Hein said he likes playing on the penalty kill.
“I enjoy stopping teams for scoring when they have a man advantage,” he said. “It isn’t the situation you want to find yourself in as a team, but it can actually swing a lot of momentum. If you have a good PK, it can be very discouraging for a team that can’t get opportunities on the power play, and if I can mix in a shorthanded goal here even better.”
Hein’s skill and abilities to create offence impress even his teammates.
“It’s really an honour playing with a guy like Hein,” said Flin Flon defenceman Mason Martin. “That guy has a wicked shot, good vision and he’s always a hard worker, and, with saying that, he has a scoring touch so he can always find a way to put the puck in the back of the net.”
Martin is one of a few Bombers that Hein played midget AAA hockey with. He initially signed with the Bombers, but received the opportunity to play at the major junior level with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. After two seasons in Washington state, Hein came to Flin Flon.
In the City Built on Rock, Hein quickly showed he could produce – 20 points in 19 games last season. He also got to be teammates with players from his hometown. This season’s roster includes five Winnipeggers in Hein, Hooper, Billy Klymchuk, Reid Robertson, and Martin.
“I’ve had a lot of fun this year. Yes, it’s nice to play with the Winnipeg boys and have that sense of home with you at all times, but I think at the end of the day you have a lot of fun when you’re on a winning team and, now that we have added some more assets at the deadline, our confidence is higher than ever,” Hein said before last week’s games. “We believe as a team we can beat anyone so that makes every game fun moving forward.”
In his final junior season, Hein said he is “just focusing on helping this team as much I can to go as far as we can.” He has certainly enjoyed his time in Flin Flon – especially the Whitney Forum fans.
“I like how they are interactive with the calls and decisions the refs make,” he said. “You feel the emotion they present and I think the team feeds off it.”