© Star file photo
David Budgell is seen at practice at the Pepsi Centre in this file photo.
CAMPBELLTON, N.B. — David Budgell expects to be an energy guy when he makes his debut in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League.
Selected third overall in the 2013 MJAHL entry draft, the St. Anthony native will play for the Campbellton Tigers in the team’s home opener tonight in Campbellton, N.B.
Budgell, who tied for the scoring race with teammate Ian Skinner in the provincial major midget league last season with 41 points, is one of five graduate of the Western Kings of the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League playing hockey on the mainland this winter. Gatineau Olympics draft pick Jordan Kennedy (Miramichi Timberwolves) and Chad Jones (Summerside Capitals) are also trying to turn heads in the MJAHL this season. Ian Skinner (Smith Falls) and Neil Woolfrey (Cornwall Colts) — two very gifted players in both end of the rinks for the Kings throughout their major midget hockey career — are plying their trade in the Ontario junior A league.
“Crash and bang,” Budgell said of his mindset heading into his first game.
Budgell, who is happy to have Alex White of Labrador City and Tim Rose of Stephenville as teammates, expects to anchor a spot on the Tigers third line in the home opener. While he was known for his offensive prowess in Newfoundland and Labrador, Budgell knows the importance of being responsible in his own end of the rink and believes he will be assigned a defensive role in the early going of his development.
“Block shots, play the body and be aggressive in doing my job,” he said of his focus with his new team.
Budgell grew up in St. Anthony and eventually made the permanent move to Corner Brook to immerse himself in Kings hockey, but now he’s in another province with not a lot of familiar faces around so he’s thankful for his comfortable surroundings with the billet family he stays with while playing hockey and doing on-line general studies courses at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
“It’s going good. They are really nice people,” he said of the family he stays with who just happen to be big hockey fans and supporter of the Tigers.
Budgell has played in some big games in his young career and enjoys competing even more when a lot of fans fill the seats. He expects a lot of energy in the building tonight and that’s just fine with him.
“It’s a really strong hockey town. “I think we’re suppose to get 800-900 people for opening night,” he said.
“The more fans you get the more excited you get,” he said. “Just gives you drive to play harder.”
Budgell spent two weeks in Montreal committed to an intense training regime to get ready for his rookie season. He’s taking it as serious as he can because he wants to be an impact player as quick as he can.
“I think it’s going to be a good year,” he said.