Austin Evans is on the hunt for an RBC Cup.
The 20-year-old Whistlerite has sought the elusive national junior 'A' championship since the 2010-11 season, when he started with the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
From there, his journey took him to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Fernie Ghostriders, and the Battlefords North Stars, and now even further east, to the Flin Flon Bombers.
Acquired as part of a rebuilding year last season, Evans has helped the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Bombers bounce back this season with three goals and 10 assists in 19 games. After sojourning around western Canada the past several years, Evans feels settled on a contending club.
"We're making a push this year, that's for sure. We're trying to win the national championship," he said. "Coming into Flin Flon, the coach wants me to be a part of the team and part of this winning culture."
This season, the Bombers are 11-3-6 and are just two points out of the Sherwood Division lead. Flin Flon is easily the loop's most penalized team with 125 more penalty minutes than the second-leading club, and Evans has been called upon regularly on the team's penalty-kill unit.
When he's not in the box himself, that is, as he already has 41 penalty minutes.
Evans has always had some feistiness to him. Listed at 5-9 and 155 lbs., he models himself after Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher, small and speedy, but with a touch of nastiness.
"We're similar stature, and I try to play like him — very gritty and in-your-face, but also a skill game," he said of his former schoolmate in Vancouver.
Bombers head coach and general manager Mike Reagan acknowledged Evans wasn't the centrepiece of the trade that saw the team give up star player Cam Blair. Blair was in his final season of junior eligibility and would be of more use to a contending team, Reagan decided, as he looked to make a more serious charge this season.
Reagan was initially more pumped for the two younger players in the deal, but said Evans has since opened his eyes.
"We knew we were getting a decent player, but we probably didn't realize we were getting as good a player as he is," Reagan said. "I hate to say it, but Aussie (Evans' nickname) was a little bit of a throw-in. We needed a player last year and we wanted a 19-year-old and they offered us him.
"We knew he competed hard, but I didn't know he had the skill level that he does have. It was a real pleasant surprise."
Praising Evans' work ethic and skating ability, Reagan also noted the 20-year-old brings consistency to the team — a point of emphasis for the fifth-year coach.
"You know what you're getting. You're going to get a solid effort from him every night," he said.
Flin Flon got an early boost to its title hopes, as the Bombers sauntered into Yorkton, home of the defending RBC Cup champion Terriers, on the night they were receiving their rings. Evans and the Bombers spoiled the celebrations with a 6-3 victory.
"That was super motivating for us, knowing we could go all the way," Evans said. "Seeing them hand out the rings, that was really cool."
Though his sights are firmly set on this season, Evans hopes to continue playing beyond this year. In September, he participated in the SJHL Showcase, which is a chance for college scouts to see the league's top players in one place.
January 22, 2017, 12:00 PM
While Whistler unlikely to follow suit, both communities looking to streamline enforcement efforts More...
January 21, 2017, 11:20 AM
Also, RMOW seeking feedback on proposed transportation plans More...
January 19, 2017, 1:03 AM
Whistler welcomes family of Syrian refugees More...