Burns Lake Timbermen blueliner Aaron Johnson has been lighting it up, so far in the young hockey season, and not just for the Timbermen.
The Greater Metro Junior Hockey League allows players to move seamlessly between franchises on loan agreements. Johnson is a regular defender for the Timbermen but he has also been loaned to the franchise in Kitimat, the Kitimat Saax, for games they recently played in Mackenzie and Tumbler Ridge.
The loan agreements give players like Johnson a chance to get extra ice time and to learn hockey from a different set of coaches, for a few nights. Johnson was excited to get to work for Saax coach Kevin Hopfner.
“He coached in High Prairie last year and they have a crazy record,” Johnson said. The High Prairie Red Wings have only lost four times in the past two seasons. “They won back to back championships.”
Putting on another team’s uniform temporarily is fun, but there’s nothing like home cookin’ for Johnson. He said he’ll never forget the crowd at the Timbermen home opener at the Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena.
“Oh, it was pretty loud,” he said. “It was pretty exciting. Just about full. It was crazy.”
Home cookin’ is only a slight stretch because although Johnson is one of the players the team imported to the community, he didn’t travel far. His mom Teresa was born and raised in Burns Lake and now lives in Houston, his father David is from Fraser Lake where he still resides. Aaron is splitting the distance while staying with grandparents Jim and Marjorie Goertzen. He’s pleased with a billet arrangement like that.
“It worked out well. My grandparents are great. They feed me. Take me places. They pick me up at school if it’s too cold and drive me to the rink,” he said.
He is grateful that a Junior-A league was available so close to home. Otherwise he would have had to either close off his hockey aspirations, or move a considerable distance to pursue it. He appreciates that he gets to be in a league that supplies some of the gear, has gym privileges, a physiotherapist, encourages healthy nutrition and urges academic attention.
School wasn’t a difficult transition because “I’d be here in the summer lots, so I knew most of them (the people he hangs out with at LDSS), that was pretty easy to get adapted.”
Johnson wears No. 6 for the Timberman. He’s hard to miss. Even though he’s the youngest defender on the team at 15 years old, he stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 160 pounds. Adding some weight is one of his goals for the year, along with honing his hitting technique.
The best thing about Burns Lake, he said, now that he’s a full-time resident, is “the community is pretty good. Everyone helps each other out lots, I’ve noticed. People are nice.”
Especially when the Timbermen score on home ice. Johnson had a two-goal game against that Kitimat Saax team a couple of weeks ago, so he looks to be a crowd favourite for years to come.