Although his most recent hockey season was limited to 24 games, Humboldt’s Logan Barlage feels grateful and fortunate.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed back the usual fall start of the Western Hockey League season to late February. As well, the number of contests for Barlage’s Lethbridge Hurricanes and the WHL’s other squads was limited.
“Just getting to play was really lucky,” the 20-year-old son of Michael and Carla Barlage said. “Some other leagues didn’t get to play. For us to play, I think, was a very good opportunity for everybody.”
Barlage tried to make the most of his 24 games. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound forward scored eight goals and accumulated 20 points. He was tied for third on the team in both points and goals. Barlage was a co-winner of the Hurricanes’ Three Stars award.
What allowed him to put up points? Barlage said it is a matter of trying to do the right things consistently.
“I’m controlling the puck, shooting the puck when I get the chance, using my body to get to the net – that’s when I’m scoring,” he said.
The Hurricanes counted on Barlage not only for points but also leadership. In his fourth Western Hockey League season, he was one of the team’s assistant captains.
“I think that is obviously a huge honour,” he said. “I think that everybody wants to wear a letter when you’re in this league.”
How does Barlage help lead the Hurricanes?
“I think that I’m a pretty vocal guy,” he said. “I think that I try to create a relationship with everybody on the team and make sure everybody is held accountable. … Going into next year [his final junior hockey season], I obviously want to help lead the team to a championship. That’s obviously the end goal. Helping the team win games, I think, is the biggest thing for me.”
Each of the WHL’s divisions handled the season restart differently. For example, while the Manitoba and Saskatchewan teams played in a bubble-like setting in Regina, the Alberta squads travelled to play their division rivals as usual. The Alberta teams only played each other.
“Games inside the division are always a bigger deal,” Barlage said. “The games are always more intense. I think there were lots of rivalries this season. Playing the same team three games in a row on the weekend I think was hard.”
The Hurricanes were not billeted out with families like they usually would be. Instead, they lived in an apartment complex.
Barlage said that traveling to games provides some normalcy, but he noted that it was different not playing in front of fans. This was especially true for home games as he said the Hurricanes “have such good team support. They’re always loud.”
Drafted by the Swift Current Broncos, Barlage played part of his rookie campaign (2017-18) there before being swapped to Lethbridge. He appreciates the experience he has had with the Hurricanes.
“The city of Lethbridge is awesome. … The organization is really good,” Barlage said. “They do a lot for us – do whatever they can to help us succeed.
“I think we have the best fans in the league. Every single night we always have great support. It’s a great place to play.”
Barlage said the backing of his family has helped him to succeed in hockey. He is one of three siblings – including his sister Paige and brother Noah, who plays for his hometown Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
“They’re always supporting me in every single thing I do,” he said. “They are always there for me when I need to talk to them. I think that me getting to where I am is all because of them because they’re the ones taking me to those extra skates and driving me to the extra practices.
“My dad coached me all through minor hockey. That was really awesome for me. I thank him for always being there, always helping my development. The support from all of my family in general has been awesome all of my career.”
This summer, Barlage has switched up his offseason training a bit to add in jujitsu and boxing – both with his brother. The idea, Barlage said, is “trying to get my whole body going into the game.” As for the offseason in general, he said he is “Just trying to focus more on getting stronger and faster on the ice, just trying to keep developing my skills like I always try to do.”
Barlage has just one junior hockey season left. He said he is looking forward to “playing a normal season.”
“Having a 68-game schedule and really getting that last year to take as much advantage of as I can. … Enjoy my last year and we’ll see what happens after that. Just going there, enjoy every moment, play my hardest, and try to win a championship in my last year.”