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Former Broomfield resident chasing his dream in Canadian hockey league

DenHartog working through Canadian Junior leagues

Breckin DenHartog skates with the puck while on the ice for the Melville Millionaires Canadian Junior 'A' team in Saskatchewan. (Photo courtesy Outer Edge Imagery/ provided by Breckin DenHartog)
Breckin DenHartog skates with the puck while on the ice for the Melville Millionaires Canadian Junior ‘A’ team in Saskatchewan. (Photo courtesy Outer Edge Imagery/ provided by Breckin DenHartog)
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Pursuing a dream in collegiate sports isn’t always easy. Breckin DenHartog knows that struggle all too well.

That’s why, when the 18-year-old, short-term Broomfield resident and defenseman for the Rocky Mountain Roughriders AAA hockey team signed a contract with the Junior A league in Canada last year, he knew the real work had just begun.

After 11 years of playing for various teams around the United States, he was ready for the challenge. He started his Junior A career with the Whitecourt Wolverines in Alberta before being traded to the Melville Millionaires in Saskatchewan.

“It’s definitely a grind,” DenHartog said. “I almost describe it as a job to people. I was in Whitecourt at first and I was up, it was a 9 a.m. lift. And then you get home you eat, take a nap. And then you’re at the rink from 1 to about 3:30, 4 (p.m.), practicing taping sticks and doing a little extra work on the ice after practice. And you’re home balancing school on top of it.”

DenHartog’s entire life has revolved around the rink, from age 6 when he first took up the sport in Iowa to playing for a couple of years in Omaha. At age 16, he made the move to Broomfield to join the Roughriders. He attended Monarch High School as a sophomore and Erie High School as a junior before signing with the Wolverines, then completed his diploma through Colorado Connections Academy, an online school that allowed him to play internationally.

Since joining the Millionaires, he’s committed more time to his skates and in the weight room and has seen his talent level increase. Melville’s assistant coach, Daven Smith, is certainly glad they traded for him.

His versatility and aggression on the ice have served the team well in his short time with the program.

“We’ve seen him as a big body presence,” Smith said. “He’s 6-(foot)-3, roughly 185, 190 pounds and he moved well on the blue line. When we brought him in, he was a defenseman, but he had a bit of experience playing forward as well. He approached the game like a forward, honestly. He likes to jump up in the play. He likes to take pucks up ice as soon as he can. But at the same time, he’s not afraid to hang on to the pocket and make slightly risky plays.”

Smith lauded DenHartog for his upbeat, high-energy personality and has enjoyed seeing the hunger he brings to improving his game for himself and for the team. One day, DenHartog hopes to play college hockey.

After all, that’s the kind of drive that every athlete needs to achieve their highest aspirations. DenHartog, and millions of hockey fans in North America, witnessed the right recipe for success this past weekend when the Colorado Avalanche secured the Stanley Cup with a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Just a few years ago, the Avalanche endured their worst season in franchise history.

“When you see that, you see everybody clicking as a team,” DenHartog said. “You see everybody working together. You see people blocking shots. You see everybody playing their role. … Everybody’s lying out to take blocked shots and, I mean, you have to play like that every game if you want to make it that far to go on a run like that.”

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