Broncos 2022-23 Season Recap
The Swift Current Broncos 2022-23 season is one that saw the team’s year end one game shy of their ultimate goal, but also one that saw exponential growth within the group.
A plethora of players on the roster took major steps forward in their development, solidifying themselves as not only high-end WHL players but ones with great potential to play professionally.
Despite a number of players reaching games played milestones over the season, eliteprospects.com still has the Broncos as the ninth-youngest team by average age at 18.13 years old. That youth continues to foreshadow the bright future the organization has built over the past number of seasons.
The 2019 WHL Prospects Draft continues to pay dividends for Swift Current as the team has five of the top 24 scoring players from that draft. Mathew Ward (5th), Josh Filmon (12th), Connor Hvidston (17th), Owen Pickering (23rd) and Josh Davies (24th) are all part of the core group of players that has done the most damage offensively for the Broncos over the past two seasons.
The Broncos also saw the emergence of some of their younger players, while also getting a glimpse into future members of the organization with the WHL debuts of Peyton Kettles and Ty Coupland.
The Broncos finished the season with three 20-year-olds on their roster, though saw five different 20-year-olds play significant roles during the year.
Mason Ward was acquired just before the trade deadline from the Brandon Wheat Kings to bring stability to the Broncos blue line. Logging heavy minutes in a key shutdown role, Ward finished his WHL career just shy of 200 career games (183) while recording 44 points (13-31-44).
Drew Englot was also acquired just before the trade deadline, and brought a wealth of experience to the Broncos locker room. Ending his WHL career with 214 career games along with an additional 17 playoff games during last year’s run with the Kamloops Blazers. Englot recorded 10 points (4-6-10) with the Broncos, none bigger than his game-winning goal against the Regina Pats in front of a sold out InnovationPlex on January 20.
Sam McGinley spent nearly his entire WHL career with the Broncos as 184 of his 195 career games came in Blue and Green. Acquired from the Regina Pats early in the 2019-20 season, McGinley flourished in Swift Current into a high-end two-way defenceman. McGinley set career highs across the board offensively in 2022-23 with 37 points (9-28-37) in 61 games. Relied upon in all situations, McGinley was named the co-winner of the Broncos defenceman of the year award along with Owen Pickering.
Adam McNutt was acquired from the Regina Pats on October 12 and didn’t miss a game for the rest of the season, skating in 68 games between the Broncos and Pats. He also more than tripled his point total from the previous year, ending with 19 points (3-16-19). Never shy to throw his weight around or defend a teammate, McNutt also posted a +12 rating on the season, tops amongst all Broncos defencemen.
Braeden Lewis shook off an injury-riddled 2021-22 campaign perfectly, suiting up for all 68 games in 2022-23. Doing so allowed him to post career highs offensively with 21 points (6-15-21). Lewis also improved his faceoff win percentage by 4.9 per cent from last season, ending the year at 49.3 per cent. He was named the Broncos winner of the Leadership and Maturity award for the second season in a row.
Caleb Wyrostok recovered from a major injury suffered last year and surged offensively, shattering his previous career highs with 40 points (24-16-40) in just 52 games. Wyrostok, like Owen Pickering, has turned out to be a ninth-round steal for the Broncos as he was on the board until the 197th overall pick in 2018. Wearing an ‘A’ on his jersey full time this season, Wyrostok is a key cog in the Broncos lineup.
Mathew Ward continued his upward trend with a strong 2022-23 campaign. He set career highs in all offensive categories with 74 points (26-48-74) while also skating in all 68 games. Ward became more of a shooting threat in 2022-23, firing 246 pucks on net compared to 149 last season. Ward is nearly a point-per-game player over his WHL career to date with 153 points (54-99-153) in 156 games. He also improved his faceoff percentage by 8.4 per cent, going from 42.7 to 51.2.
Josh Davies reached the 20-goal plateau by scoring in the Broncos final game of the season. His elite speed saw him become a threat to score in all situations as he scored six power play goals and three shorthanded goals. Davies also continued to terrorize opposing players on the forecheck with his thunderous body checks. That aggressive style of play saw him rack up 131 penalty minutes, the third most in the WHL. He is currently with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League after signing an amateur tryout.
Connor Hvidston carried an excellent finish to last season into the entire 2022-23 campaign. Drafted 148th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2022 NHL Draft, Hvidston more than doubled his point total from the year before. In his 30th game of the season Hvidston had already set a new career high in points, and continued that play down the stretch as he finished the year with 65 points (21-44-65) in 59 games. He signed an amateur tryout with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL, reuniting with former Broncos goaltender Gage Alexander.
Josh Filmon found a new gear offensively in 2022-23, more than doubling his goal total from the year before with 47. Those along with his 28 assists gave him the Broncos scoring title with 75 points on the year. A model of consistency, Filmon went back-to-back games without a point just twice over the entire season and finished the year by scoring 14 goals over the Broncos final 15 games. He became the first WHL player since Tyler Ennis in 2009 to score six goals in a single game by doing so at Rogers Place against the Edmonton Oil Kings on December 16. The New Jersey Devils, who drafted Filmon 166th overall in 2022, took notice of his season as they signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract on March 31. He is currently with their AHL team, the Utica Comets, on an amateur tryout, once again teammates with Broncos alum Isaac Poulter.
Owen Pickering was named the Broncos captain shortly after the season began, and responded by setting a new career high in points with 45 (9-36-45). Logging heavy minutes for the Broncos in all situations throughout the 2022-23 season, there were times when it seemed like Pickering was jumping over the boards every second shift for the Broncos in tight games. A first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2022 NHL Draft, Pickering made his professional hockey debut March 31 as he has joined the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the remainder of the season.
Reid Dyck saw his workload nearly double in his third season in the WHL, going from 1,267 minutes played in 2021-22 to 2,290 this year. He shaved over half a goal off of his goals against average, down to 3.62 from 4.26 last year. A large part of that was due to his play over the final month of the season as Dyck posted a .915 save percentage with a 2.66 goals against average over his final 11 starts. The Boston Bruins draft pick will look to carry that into 2023-24.
The Broncos received steady contributions from their core group of eight 2005-born players on the roster. Much like their 2019 WHL Prospects Draft crop, the Broncos seem to have hit a home run with the 2020 group, signing eight of their 11 picks and seeing six of them on the 2022-23 roster for the entire year.
Luke Mistelbacher went undrafted in 2020, but signed with the Broncos following training camp in 2021-22. Joining the Broncos full time this season, Mistelbacher wasted no time by scoring the Broncos first goal of the season before adding the shootout winner the next night in their first win of the year. He finished the season with 16 points (6-10-16) in 56 games.
Brady Birnie became a consistent offensive threat in his second WHL season, tripling his goal total from his rookie year with 39 points (18-21-39). Drafted 21st overall in the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft, Birnie took major strides in his offensive game this past season, which didn’t go unnoticed as he was named the co-winner of the Broncos Most Improved Award.
Grayson Burzynski was also a co-winner of the Most Improved Award, doubling his point total from his rookie year with 12 (5-7-12) in 2022-23. Seeing his minutes increase this season, Burzynski felt significantly more comfortable on the Broncos blue line while impacting the game consistently with his simple style of play.
Joey Rocha made the jump to the WHL look rather seamless as a rookie goaltender, posting an 8-5-0-1 record with an impressive .906 save percentage and 2.85 goals against average in 18 appearances. Rocha won his first four career starts and also recorded his first career shutout on March 4 in an 8-0 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings. He and Reid Dyck provided an excellent 1-2 punch in the second half of the season following the departure of Gage Alexander.
The Broncos finished the year with two 16-year-olds on the roster, but began the year with three. After suiting up for 13 games with the Broncos, Maddix McCagherty finished the 2022-23 season in British Columbia between the KIJHL’s Kelowna Chiefs and BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. In seven games with the Chiefs McCagherty posted eight points (5-3-8), including a hat trick on January 20. In his 18 games with the Centennials McCagherty brought some much-needed offence to the BCHL’s second-lowest scoring team by adding eight points (2-6-8).
Clarke Caswell took home the Broncos Rookie of the Year honours by providing excellent secondary scoring with 29 points (9-20-29) in 63 games. The sixth overall pick in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft also had the chance to display his high-end talent on the international stage by suiting up for Team Canada Black at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge by adding five points (2-3-5) in seven games.
Josh Fluker joined Caswell on Team Canada Black and also had a very strong showing with his four points (0-4-4) in seven games. He got the monkey off his back by scoring his first WHL goal January 18 against the Medicine Hat Tigers, and no doubt gained invaluable experience in his 55 games that will help him in 2023-24.
The Broncos got a glimpse of two key pieces of their future as Peyton Kettles and Ty Coupland made their WHL debuts this past season. Kettles was drafted 6th overall in 2022 and stands at a towering 6’4” despite not turning 16 until September 1. He skated in 22 games with Rink Hockey Academy Winnipeg’s U18 team this year, finishing with 16 points (2-14-16) in 22 games.
Swift Current was more than thrilled to see Coupland still available with the 42nd overall pick after a season that saw him produce at over a three points per game pace with 65 (36-29-65) in just 21 games. He joined the Broncos for their final two games of the U.S. Division trip in February, making a wonderful first impression by scoring the eventual game-winning goal in the Broncos 3-1 win over the Spokane Chiefs on February 3.
It was recently announced that the Broncos had signed a sixth member of the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft class as 140th overall pick Jaxen Gauchier signed with the team. Other signings include 26th overall pick Jace McFaul, 30th overall pick Parker Rondeau and 74th overall pick Berney Weston.
The 2023 WHL Prospects Draft is slated for May 11 and the Broncos currently hold the following selections:
*This pick, along with a 2025 5th, was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on November 17, 2022 in exchange for Ty Hurley and a 2025 7th.
The Broncos also hold the 4th and 30th overall selections in the 2023 U.S. Priority Draft, slated for May 10. While no date has been set for the 2023 CHL Import Draft, the Broncos will hold the 24th and 84th overall selections.
The 2023 MNP Alumni Golf Classic is also set for July 22, with more details to be announced in the near future. Following the golf classic, the fall of 2023 will arrive and the Broncos will return to Swift Current, eager to build off a 2022-23 season that ended one goal short of its goal.
The Broncos organization is forever thankful for the incredible support it receives from the community. You are the backbone of the organization, and we can’t wait to welcome you back for 2023-24.
2022-23 By The Numbers
1,837 – The average attendance of Broncos home games in 2022-23, up by 397 per game from 2021-22 (1,480).
3 – NHL contracts signed by Broncos players in 2022-23 (Owen Pickering – July 16, Gage Alexander – December 30, Josh Filmon – March 31).
227 – Goals scored by the Broncos in 2022-23, an increase of 46 from 2021-22.
31 – Wins in 2022-23, an increase of five from 2021-22.
5 – Players currently with their American Hockey League affiliates. (Owen Pickering – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Josh Filmon – Utica Comets, Connor Hvidston/Gage Alexander – San Diego Gulls, Josh Davies – Charlotte Checkers).
22,418 – Roughly the number of kilometres traveled by the Broncos over the 2022-23 season.
3 – Players who produced at over a point-per-game pace in 2022-23. (Josh Filmon – 75 in 64 GP, Mathew Ward – 74 in 68 GP, Connor Hvidston – 65 in 59 GP)
15 – Shorthanded goals for the Broncos in 2022-23, third most in the WHL and most by the Broncos since 2007-08 when they had 16.