ESTEVAN - A veteran member of the Estevan Bruins has been named the club’s RBC Community Ambassador for the 2022-23 season.
Defenceman Aleksa Babic, who hails from Tecumseh, Ont., was presented with the award before the start of Friday’s game against the Notre Dame Hounds. RBC will also make a $1,000 donation to a local school division in Babic’s name.
It was noted before the game that Babic is always the first to volunteer for anything in the community.
In a video, Babic said his favourite part of Estevan is the people, including the staff, volunteers, billets, fans, trainers and more. When he walks into a restaurant, someone will ask him how the season is going and how he’s doing.
“It does mean a lot, and having that kind of environment around you really makes you to want to get out into the community and help out as much as you can,” Babic said in a video.
He said he will gladly go out to a school and play with kids, or meet with the fans who come to watch the games.
“I obviously want to take the chance to give back to that community that means so much to me,” he said.
Babic has three goals and 32 points in 40 games played this season. He was part of last year’s Bruins team that won the SJHL title.
A Community Ambassador will be selected for every team in the league.
Meanwhile, the rosters have been released for the annual SJHL-MJHL Showcase, with three skaters from the Estevan Bruins being chosen for the event, scheduled for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Winnipeg
Babic, along with forwards Kade Runke and Jagjeevan Phangura, have been selected to represent the SJHL. It will be the first appearance for each player at the event as it will be the first SJHL-MJHL Showcase since January 2020. Runke and Babic will play together on the SJHL U20 White team, while Phangura will play on the SJHL U18 Blue team.
Runke is the team captain in his second season with the Bruins. Following up on a season in which he was a key contributor to the Bruins’ 2022 SJHL championship squad, Runke has been near the top of the SJHL scoring race all season long. Runke leads the club with 22 goals and 44 points in 38 games this season, as of Jan. 13.
Phangura has provided a large boost to the Bruins’ offence in his first year with the club, tallying 10 goals and 26 points in 35 games this season. Though he is not eligible as a rookie due to playing last year in the BCHL, Phangura is one of the top 18-year-old players in the SJHL and has become a fan favourite in Estevan.
Conspicuous by his absence is Bruins' second-year goaltender Cam Hrdlicka. He leads the SJHL in games played (32), minutes played (1,745) and shutouts (five), and is second in wins with 18. He was also part of the Bruins' SJHL championship team last season.
A total of six teams will compete in the showcase event, with three teams from both the MJHL and SJHL. All teams have been selected by the showcase coaching staff of their respective leagues forming one 18U roster, and two 20U rosters. The event provides high performance exposure in front of NHL, WHL, NCAA and USPORTS scouts.