“If I didn’t send that text I wouldn’t be here today.”
Braydon Buziak said it with a bit of a smile. He knows his journey to the Regina Pats is a bit unconventional. It took a bit of moxie, faith in his abilities and a lot of talent.
Buziak grew up playing hockey in Kindersley before moving to Battleford when he was in Grade 10. He went unselected in the WHL bantam draft but the Pats “listed” him, which prevented other teams from taking him.
Excited, Buziak stayed in Battleford and played for the local SJHL team, but midway through the season, he found out the Pats had removed him from the protected list.
But he didn’t panic. Instead, he waited for his invitation to training camp the following summer.
Then finally, two weeks before camp began, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
“I just texted the (Pats’) head scout Dale (McMullin) here and said ‘Do you mind if I come to camp?’”
Turns out the team didn’t mind at all. Buziak went on to show he could contribute, earning himself a spot on the team.
“If you look through any team they all have these little success stories and Braydon’s been one of them,” said assistant head coach and general manager Dave Struch.
“(He brings) grit, determination, he’s a character player, he’s a depth player and the guys feed off him,” Struch continued. “He’s a really good teammate.”
That’s exactly what Buziak strives to be. Even in a short conversation his bubbly personality and openness comes through. He’s outgoing and likeable – things that don’t only make someone a good teammate but also a good person.
Buziak is self-professed to be “not a skill guy” so on the ice he lifts his team up in other ways.
“When I’m forechecking I always try to skate as hard as I can,” Buziak said, face lighting up as he explains it. “I like to be that guy that goes and tries to run the guy right through the wall.”
He may be a hard hitter, but that’s not to say he hasn’t had an impact on the score sheet too.
Buziak had a strong start to the season, scoring five goals in six games and playing high in the lineup with players like Sam Steel. However, as his teammates began returning from NHL camps, Buziak saw his role and his playing time drop drastically. It was a difficult adjustment.
“It was really hard, you know, going from playing with those guys who have so much skill on the ice, who can find you anywhere,” Buziak explained. “It definitely took a lot out of me … I thought my confidence went down a lot and it was hard to get that confidence back.”
“I think it was frustrating for Braydon throughout the course of the year,” Struch agreed. “But he’s got good teammates, we helped him through it and in the end he handled it well.”
Buziak also credits assistant coach Brad Herauf for his ability to begin bouncing back, which he did about a month before playoffs started. Through the playoffs, his success has continued, most recently highlighted in the Pats Game 6 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes to clinch their spot in the WHL Championships.
The Pats were down in the game 3-0 just eight minutes in, but thanks to a set up by Buziak, his linemate Robbie Holmes got the Pats on the board and started the 7-4 comeback. Buziak said he felt the impact the goal had.
“That’s, I think, kind of what got the ball rolling.”
He went on to get another assist in the game and now hopes to continue to contribute more and more as the Pats get closer to that Memorial Cup birth.
And maybe, just maybe, get a few extra looks from scouts as he heads into the NHL Draft in June. Though failing that, he could always just send them a text and ask.