Prospect Profile: Berney Weston

Being undersized has never deterred Berney Weston.

The Gull Lake native grew up splitting time between being a player and a goalie before making the full-time switch around the age of seven, motivated partially by his love of the Swift Current Broncos.

“I think I just fell in love with the gear and kind of got sucked into it,” he said. “I don’t think my dad really wanted me to be a goalie, but I just loved it so much and have stuck with it ever since. Eetu Laurikainen was the Broncos goalie at the time and I always loved him. Stuart Skinner was another guy that I really looked up to.”

A stark reminder that Weston would have been just 11 years old when Skinner backstopped the Broncos to the 2018 WHL title.

While Skinner stands at 6’4’’ and Laurikainen at a smaller 6’0’’, Weston clocked in at 5’8’’ and 143 pounds for Broncos training camp last fall.

He was coming off a 2021-22 season where he posted a 12-4 record with a .922 save percentage and 2.66 goals against average for the U15 Swift Current Broncos, before going 6-4 in the playoffs to help them reach the league final.

Weston left little doubt that he could perform at the higher level with his showing during training camp, despite the size discrepancy.

“I’m not the biggest guy so I can’t be too deep or anything, or else I’ll get pucks blown by me,” he said. “I have to be aggressive and use my reaction time and speed.”

In recent years the NHL has seemingly began a shift towards smaller-sized players being more of a common place, but goaltenders are often still well over six feet.

Weston pays close attention to the smaller goalies in the NHL to see how they are able to succeed.

“I try and play like a Juuse Saros or an Igor Shesterkin,” he said. “When someone tells you you’re too small to play the position, you’re able to look at other guys and say ‘look what they’re doing’. Daniel Hauser had a great season in Winnipeg and Saros and Shesterkin are two of the best goalies in the world. Those are the kind of guys that I’m really able to look up to.”

Saros is listed at 5’11’’ and Shesterkin at 6’1’’ while Hauser has established himself as a premier goalie in the WHL with a career 78-7-3-0 record. He is listed at 5’11’’ on the WHL website.

With his success during the 2021-22 season Weston was hopeful that he would get an opportunity with a WHL team. He never imagined it would be with the one he idolized growing up.

“I was at school writing a math test when I got drafted,” he laughed. “All the sudden was phone was blowing up in my pocket and I was hoping it was because I got drafted. When I saw it was the Broncos I kind of just went blank. I was losing my mind and was so excited.”

Weston was the second of three U15 Broncos that Swift Current drafted in 2022, joining Parker Rondeau (30th) and Wesley Olson (206th).

That only added to the excitement of the day for Weston.

“I’ve played lots of hockey with those guys over the past few years,” he said. “I’m pretty close with them and when they got drafted, I was almost more excited for them than I was when I got drafted.”

Preparing for his first WHL training camp, Weston says he kept his expectations low coming into it, but it wasn’t long before he was turning heads during practices and scrimmages.

“I just wanted to go have fun,” he said. “I was so excited to get out there. I didn’t really know what it was going to be like but it was an awesome experience, especially getting the chance to meet Reid Dyck, Gage Alexander and Joey Rocha. I just wanted to go out there and play as best as I could. As the camp went on, I felt like I was playing pretty well.”

The Broncos felt the same way, as on the last day of training camp he was signed to a Scholarship and Development Agreement.

It almost didn’t feel real, Weston said.

“It was pretty much a dream come true to sign with the Broncos,” he stated.

A few days later Weston was able to step onto the ice in a WHL jersey for the first time, playing the back half of the Broncos game against the Regina Pats at Affinity Place in Estevan.

It got off to a rocky start as Connor Bedard scored shorthanded just seconds after Weston took over in net.

“He’s an unreal player so I’ve definitely told the story of him scoring on me a couple times,” he laughed. “I was just so excited to get out there. It’s definitely a confidence booster to get out there and play, it’s just unfortunate we ended up losing the game.”

Weston played 28:56 of that game in Estevan, turning aside 19 of the 21 shots he faced, including 15 of 16 in the third period as the Broncos dropped a 4-2 decision.

Weston would parlay that experience into an early-season call up to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Weyburn Red Wings, who were in need of a goaltender in late October.

It was a call Weston was not expecting to receive.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting to get a start against a team they really wanted to beat in Nipawin,” he said. “It was a really awesome experience to go and play for those guys. I got to practice with them the day before, and we ended up getting the win too, so it was awesome.”

Weston’s surprise start turned out to be stellar as he backstopped the Red Wings to a 4-1 win over the Nipawin Hawks, making 29 saves and being named the SJHL’s goalie of the week. He was one of just 11 2007-born players to appear in an SJHL game this season.

As has seemingly been his calling card thus far in his hockey career, Weston continued to prove people wrong at the U18 level in 2022-23 by posting a 20-7-0-2 record with a 2.86 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.

That culminated in him being named the SMAAAHL’s Goaltec Goalie MVP.

“It was such a fun year with a great group of guys,” he said. “The older guys helped make that transition so much easier for us younger guys. I was definitely lucky that I got to stay with my parents all season while living in Swift Current full time.”

In February, Weston also travelled to the East Coast to represent Team Saskatchewan at the Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island.

Despite posting a shutout in a 4-0 win over Manitoba, Weston was limited to just the one game during the tournament. He didn’t let that take away from enjoying himself throughout, however.

“It was an awesome experience. In our dorm we had like 16 people and only half of them were hockey players, so we got to meet a bunch of other guys from Saskatchewan,” he said “The hockey was awesome, we went on a pretty good run but unfortunately lost in the final.”

Team Saskatchewan carried a 2-0 lead into the third period against Team Ontario, but Ontario came storming back to win the gold medal in overtime. Matthew Schaefer, who scored the overtime winner, was recently drafted first overall into the Ontario Hockey League by the Erie Otters.

Despite posting one of their better records in franchise history at 25-15-4, the Legionnaires season came to a premature ending as they were eliminated by the Warman Wildcats in the opening round of the SMAAAHL playoffs.

While hoping for a longer playoff run, their season coming to a close meant Weston was able to join the Broncos for practice for the final few weeks of the regular season. It was an experience that gave him a window into what he can expect in the future.

“It was pretty important to get that experience I think,” he said. “The first few days I think we were all pretty nervous so we didn’t say much, but by the last few days we were feeling a lot more comfortable. It was really great to get to skate with those guys every single day.”

Weston is hoping to use that experience when training camp begins in the fall.

“I just want to improve on everything,” he said. “There’s always something to get better at. It’s definitely going to be tough to make the team with two good goalies there in Dyck and Rocha, but I just want to go play my minutes and see what happens.”

More News
Broncos sign Sawyer Dingman to a Scholarship & Development Agreement
17 hours ago
Broncos Statement on the passing of Dennis Ulmer
2 days ago
2023 Draft Recap with Broncos General Manager Chad Leslie
2 weeks ago
Broncos make nine selections in 2023 WHL Prospects Draft
2 weeks ago
Broncos add goaltender, defenceman in 2023 WHL U.S. Priority Draft
3 weeks ago
2023 WHL Prospects Draft preview, 2022 Draft Recap
3 weeks ago