RoughRiders’ DenHartog earns AJHL opportunity after two stellar hockey seasons in Colorado
Coming from Iowa, Breckin DenHartog was very familiar with higher levels of hockey after the youth game.
Now, after two seasons with the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders, the 6-foot-3 defenseman has earned the opportunity to play junior hockey next season in Canada.
The Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League announced last week that the club inked DenHartog for the 2021-22 season.
“I was playing in Dallas for a tournament one weekend and the following week, my coach told me to expect a call from Whitecourt,” said DenHartog. “So later on, I got a phone call and we kept in touch after games and weekends. They told me they thought I would be a great asset to the team and that I have a lot of potential to be a great defenseman in the AJHL and sent me a letter of intent. After a discussion with my coach and a close family friend Vince Pedrie, we decided the AJHL would be a great fit for me.”
“Breckin is a player we see a lot of upside with and believe he can develop into a very well-rounded defenseman in the AJHL,” added Wolverines coach-GM Shawn Martin.
Leaving the United States is an experience Denhartog can’t wait to tackle.
“Honestly, what appealed to me the most is just the town and all the support that I hear is out in the town of Whitecourt,” DenHartog said. “After talking to the coaching staff and figuring out what to do, the town and the community is what is exciting me the most. I grew up in a town that supported their team, so I feel like that drew me into Whitecourt and the ‘home feeling.’
“When signing with Whitecourt, I didn’t know anyone on the team. It’s just a new and fresh start to my hockey career.”
Joining the RoughRiders in 2019 was another fresh start that DenHartog faced, and he has been rewarded for his efforts, including getting the chance to play at the USA Hockey National Championships later this month at the 18U level.
“My two years with the RoughRiders have really excelled me as a hockey player and as a growing person,” DenHartog said. “When I first got to the organization, Greg Vanover really started to push me to be the best I can be. I started playing with more confidence and showing more of my skills. Then after my 16U season, I came back to the organization and played for Doug Smail and his 18U team. He really started to recognize some of my game that was lacking what it needed to move on to the next level and helped me focus on getting those things better, which has led me to where I am now.
“Both of those coaches have been big factors and influences on my hockey career. They treated their teams as their own kids and did what was best for our teams.”
Growing up, DenHartog knew hockey was the sport for him.
“I grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, and I remember going to Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) games and just sitting and watching the game,” DenHartog said. “My parents told me that my brother and I wouldn’t take our eyes off the ice. Then once we went to our first Mite game, it was a done deal that I was going to play hockey.”
Once this 2020-21 season is complete, DenHartog said he’ll start to focus on the future, both on and off the ice.
“My short-term goals are to get to Whitecourt and to be a positive impact on the team, help out in key situations and on the defensive side of the puck,” DenHartog said. “My long-term goals are to play junior hockey for two years or as long as I can to get an NCAA Division I offer or a college offer and to incorporate hockey in my life as long as I can.”
— Matt Mackinder
(April 22, 2021)