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Bearcats alternate captain a key player in all situations
Truro Bearcats alternate captain Brandon Hughes is a big part of the Truro Bearcats’ success this season in the Maritime Junior Hockey League.
©Joey Smith/TC Media
TRURO, N.S. – There’s something about the east coast that seems to agree with Brandon Hughes.
Coming from a big town in Oakville, Ont., to small-town rural Nova Scotia two years ago, Hughes has settled in quite nicely to his hockey home away from home.
“It was a culture shock for sure ... but it’s definitely something I enjoy; it’s a good spot,” said Hughes, a 21-year-old forward for the Truro Bearcats.
Hughes played a season of major junior with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL before lacing ’em up with his hometown Oakville Blades junior A team in 2014-15.
He made his way to Truro the following season on the advice of cousin Colby Lanceleve, who played four seasons with the Bearcats from 2011 to 2015.
“It just seemed like it was a good fit,” Hughes said of packing his gear and heading to the Maritimes. “I’ve never been out to the east coast, so it’s a new experience.”
I’ve had a few old reliables over the years here and he’s one of the best of those I’ve ever had Bearcats coach Shawn Evans
Hughes has been a welcome addition to the Bearcats. He led the club in scoring in 2015-16 (14-24-38) and has increased his point production this year with 21 goals and 51 points in 41 games.
“He’s a complete player,” said head coach Shawn Evans. “I’ve had a few old reliables over the years here and he’s one of the best of those I’ve ever had.”
Hughes is a versatile, two-way skater and can play centre or the wing. He’s used on the power play and kills penalties, and is looked upon as a leader. He has played most of this season on a line with fellow veteran Denver Lynds and rookie Dylan Burton. The trio gives the Bearcats a solid 1-2 punch behind the top line of Kyle Tibbo, Nic Blanchard and Zach Moody.
“Last year, Denver and I played together quite a bit as well, so we definitely have that overlay from last year. With Dylan, he’s a good, young player; I think he’s one of the best rookies in the league, so it makes my job that much easier having both those guys to play with.”
The Bearcats are locked in a tight battle for regular-season supremacy in the MHL’s Eastlink South Division. They have played their best hockey during the second half and have won 10 of their last 13 games – a great sign as playoffs loom.
“Everybody loves their hockey here in Truro and I think that trying to put the best team on the ice is something that we’re responsible for, just for the fans’ sake, and hopefully we can bring (a championship) back to Truro, because I do think it’s a great hockey town,” said Hughes.
Hughes hopes to play Canadian university hockey next season. And while he’s not certain just where he’ll don the blades at the CIS level, he does have a preference as to where he’d like to end up.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t mind staying out here in the Maritimes. It’s something that’s grown on me and I definitely do enjoy it out here.”
One of Brandon Hughes’s best weapons is his shot.
He has a quick release and can fire a wrist shot as hard as anyone in the MHL.
During a January game at the RECC, Hughes sniped the OT winner into the top corner from between the circles using a laser wrister that South Shore goaltender Derek Goguen never moved on.
He credits his ability to shoot with velocity and accuracy to countless hours hammering pucks as a kid.
“My dad told me if I was going into anything, then I should go into it completely and full, so throughout the summers I was always shooting pucks in the driveway and pretty much I would do that until I was called in for dinner,” he said. “So it was pretty much a mainstay at my house – it was just something that we always did and the more that you do it I think the better you get.”