After a disastrous 2012-13 season, Tanner Browne is keeping his ambition in check this week at Brandon Wheat Kings training camp.
Chosen by the Wheat Kings in the second round of last year’s Western Hockey League bantam draft, Browne is a contender for a spot on the Brandon blue-line this season, but after a year marred by a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery, the 16-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., is happy simply to be feeling healthy and playing hockey again.
“It’s always a good approach to come here battling for a spot on the team, so I’m just here to basically work my hardest and see where I fit in, if not this year maybe next year, see where I go from there,” Browne said. “I didn’t play nine months last year so it got rough. I’m kind of a little rusty right now, but I feel good so I’m just trying to keep it simple out there.”
Browne originally hurt his labrum, which helps to hold the arm’s upper bone in the shoulder socket, while boxing as part of his training at the Program of Excellence school in Kelowna. The injury got worse at Wheat Kings training camp last year, flaring up in a fight with fellow prospect Jesse Gabrielle.
“It was 12 per cent torn and then I got it up to 94 or something,” he said.
Browne was able to play a partial season, helping B.C. win the Western Canada
U-16 Challenge Cup in November, but was eventually forced to undergo surgery.
“I had the surgery in March. (Recovery) was a long process,” he said. “I didn’t play my first game for five months. My first game back was the Team Pacific camp in Calgary, so it was tough. I mean, that’s fast hockey down there. It was hard to fit in at first, but after a while I think I got used to it.”
The Team Pacific camp, part of the selection process for the Alberta-British Columbia entry in this year’s World Under-17 Challenge, helped Browne get his timing back and prepare to compete here.
He started rookie camp conservatively, but the 5-foot-11, 196-pounder has been physical and began to join the attack more often on the second day of rookie camp scrimmages. It’s a side of his game that Browne wants to display more often after being a high scorer with the POE bantam team two years ago before his offence took a back seat during his limited playing time in midget last season.
“I’m known as a defensive guy who likes to hit hard, but I know I can jump up in the rush a little bit,” he said. “I’ve just got to get my confidence back a little bit here and maybe try different things.”
Browne said being surrounded by quality players who are able to make plays and cover for him when he gets more aggressive has helped his confidence on the ice. That will be amplified today with the beginning of main camp as Brandon’s veterans join the action.
“I like to up my game when the intensity’s up and the older guys obviously add to it,” he said. “I’m hoping to come out strong and do what I can do and see where I fit in out there.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 30, 2013