When the Canadian Sport School Hockey League playoffs were cancelled in March, Josh Filmon had a lot of extra free time on his hands. While he was still able to skate with his team regularly in the following months, he was able to use that time to research if the Western Hockey League was truly the right path for him.
“It seems like every kid growing up in Western Canada and playing minor hockey aspires to play in the WHL,” Filmon said. “It’s the biggest stage from some kids’ perspectives, those are the guys we look up to. For me, it wasn’t necessarily a comparison between the WHL and the NCAA, it was more of the situation I could be in with Swift Current. I feel very confident that with the coaching staff and group they have there, we could turn it into something special if the right work is put in.”
Filmon officially put pen to paper on May 4, signing his WHL Standard Player Agreement with the Broncos.
While he’ll undoubtedly make new friends in Swift Current, he’s hoping to have a few familiar faces join him with the Broncos in the coming years.
“Sam Court and I were sitting together in the cafeteria of our school when we got drafted,” Filmon recalled. “We’re really good friends and our families are really close as well. Reid (Dyck) and I have played hockey and baseball against each other for almost all of our lives too. I don’t know him that well personally, but I know he’s a good guy and a really good goalie as well.”
Filmon is currently teammates with fellow Broncos draft pick Owen Pickering, and skated regularly with Court and 2019 draft pick Karson King in the offseason.
The cancellation of the CSSHL Championships meant Filmon and his Elite 15’s Rink Hockey Academy (RHA) team had their season cut short, but Filmon says he was luckily able to continue training well into the summer.
“I didn’t start training with my summer group until much later because once the playoffs were cancelled, we had overflow skates run into the beginning of summer with my school program,” he said. “I was really fortunate that I was able to skate with the RHA team until around the middle of June. It was kind of like a private group here in Winnipeg that allowed me to skate and workout three or four times a week.”
The extra condition allowed Filmon to stay in top shape as he prepared for whatever the 2020-21 season might bring, as he looked to build off a solid 2019-20 season.
Suiting up for the RHA Elite 15’s, Filmon was named an assistant captain and scored 21 goals with 19 assists in 36 games. It was the most offensive production he had ever shown before.
“I was really happy with how my year went in terms of my development,” he said. “Last year was the year I really wanted to become more of a dominant threat to score. I wanted to change my game a bit from being more of a one-dimensional playmaking role to an all-around offensive role. I scored more goals last year than I ever had before, and I wouldn’t say that was necessarily because of working on specific skills, but I think more because of my mentality towards what I wanted to get out of every game.”
The change in mentality paid off as Filmon’s 21 goals ranked eighth at the U16 level in the CSSHL last season.
This season Filmon is back at RHA, though making the jump to the U18 level. The team has played just four games to date, and Filmon says he’s not sure when his team will get into game action again.
“Everything in November for us was cancelled, as of now,” he stated. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re able to get some exhibition games in against some other Manitoba teams, but I don’t know if and or how that would work out.”
The four games his team has played so far were all against Pilot Mound Academy and Filmon and his teammates cruised to four straight wins, outscoring them 36-5. Filmon tallied six goals and eight assists in the four games.
Much like his transition from U15 to U16, Filmon is looking for another smooth adjustment to the U18 level, though he doesn’t find himself setting specific goals.
“When it comes down to it, I’m looking to contribute whatever the team needs me to contribute this year to be successful,” he said.
The same goes for the day he becomes a Swift Current Bronco, as he doesn’t feel the need to pin himself down in a specific role before the time comes.
“I haven’t really thought too much about pinning myself in a certain role,” he said. “I think it’s too early to try and pencil myself into a certain role. If the team needs scoring, I can try and model my game a certain way that I can be more of a threat to bring offence. Or if our team needs a good two-way centre that they can count on to make plays in the defensive zone, I can do that too.”
Whenever the day comes that Filmon becomes a regular in the lineup for the Broncos, it’s clear he’ll be a team player who puts his teammates before himself.