(Courtesy of Perry Bergson, The Brandon Sun)
If Logen Hammett was trying to prove he belongs with the Brandon Wheat Kings, his last season was certainly the mic drop he was looking for.
The 16-year-old Regina product, who was the 101st overall pick in the 2018 Western Hockey League draft and has signed with Brandon, lasted into the pre-season before being returned to the Regina Pat Canadians of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
Back home in Regina, he posted 14 goals and added 36 assists in 43 games with 29 penalty minutes, and was voted the league’s top defenceman. He’s quick to deflect the credit to his teammates.
“We were pretty good,” Hammett said of the first-place Pat Canadians. “Myself, I thought I had a pretty good season. Definitely, it really helped that our team was pretty good. We had a really deep team actually with a lot of veterans.”
The Pat Canadians (32-8-4-0) tied for first with the Saskatoon Blazers.
Hammett said he had a number of things he hoped to improve on over the winter.
“I was working on being faster and making sure that everything is quicker, carrying pucks up ice and that good first pass to get going up the ice,” Hammett said. “I worked on my defensive play a little bit too, trying to get stronger in front of the net and boxing guys out and playing one-on-ones, because it’s a lot faster at the next level.”
Wheat Kings assistant general manager Doug Gasper was certainly impressed with what he saw. He said Hammett made huge strides with his game.
“Logen was a first-team all-star, voted top defenceman in that league, winner of the Adam Herold award as well and was the top scorer in the league for the regular season,” Gasper said. “He’s a young man who defends well, has good offensive instincts and just really took his game to the next level this year,” Gasper said.
The Adam Herold award is named for the young Humboldt Bronco who died in the team bus crash on April 6, 2018. The $1,000 scholarship goes to the league’s top defensive defenceman, who exemplifies leadership both on and off the ice, motivates teammates through his play and maintains a minimum 75 per cent academic average. The scholarship goes into effect after a player’s junior hockey eligibility ends.
The six-foot-one, 175-pound Hammett said he liked his play in his own end much better this year.
“I think I definitely improved quite a bit defensively,” Hammett said. “I know that last season before my rookie season in midget that I definitely lacked a good defensive game. I feel like I really progressed on that this year, and worked on that a lot. Getting stronger has helped a lot too.”
Hammett said the chance to play against older WHL players in training camps and the pre-season helped him to understand how far his game has to come. It also was a benefit when he returned back to the U18 level.
“It definitely gave me a lot of experience seeing what the next level is like,” Hammett said. “Just the speed and everything, there is a difference going back, definitely. It’s not as fast, so it really helped me slow down the game and prepare myself.”
Regina was in the second round of the playoffs against the Tisdale Trojans when the post-season was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. The team was told before it went on the ice for Game 2 that the league was at least postponing its playoffs.
“We played right after we found out and it was just so different playing,” Hammett said of their 4-2 victory on March 12 that put them up 2-0 in the semifinal series. “It was the weirdest thing. You knew that you weren’t going to be playing for a while but you were playing right now. You don’t even know what to do. We didn’t lose out, so it’s not like the satisfaction of knowing we lost out. We’ll never know what could have happened.”
While Hammett lost out on that opportunity, he’s making sure the next one doesn’t pass him by. He intends to become a full-time Wheat King in the fall and knows what it will take this summer.
“I definitely want to get a lot stronger and work on my cardio and make sure I’m staying in shape and am prepared,” Hammett said. “I haven’t really thought about my main set goals yet but I’ll be working on those in the next few days and setting up what I have to do every single day.”