SYDNEY – It’s been a turbulent year for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, but it’s steady-as-she-goes for Springhill’s Bronson Beaton.
In his first full season with the Eagles, the 17-year-old forward has managed to improve his game while management crumbled around him and his team lingers near the bottom of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League standings.
“It’s not too bad,” said Beaton. “We’re young and we’re rebuilding, so we’re just looking forward to the future.”
Cape Breton fired general manager Pierre Roux in October, replacing him with head coach Ron Choules, who took on double duty as coach and general manager. Choules was then fired in early December after the team went through a long slump.
Despite the turmoil, Beaton has managed to accumulate nine goals and 11 assists in 39 games so far this season. His most recent goal was against the Halifax Mooseheads last Friday night in Halifax.
Beaton scored the first goal of the game at 5:39 into the first period in a 4-1 loss to the Mooseheads. More than 10,000 people attended the game.
“The crowd went pretty quiet,” said Beaton. “When you’re the away team it feels good.”
Bronson said he’s happy with his point production so far this season, but added, “Points aren’t always the most important thing, so I’m just trying to work my hardest.”
The NHL has recognized his hard work.
In November, NHL Central Scouting released their Preliminary Rankings for the 2013 Entry Draft, which is June 28 and 29, in New Jersey.
Beaton is ranked 17 on the list among skaters in the QMJHL.
He says his Cape Breton team has played a huge role in his development.
“My all-round game is getting better, and I’m getting more confident and comfortable in the league.”
Beaton was drafted 23rd overall by the Shawinigan Cataractes in the 2011 QMJHL entry draft. He started 2011 with the Cataractes and was the youngest player on the team, but they traded him to Cape Breton Dec. 31, 2011.
The speed of the game was the biggest adjustment Beaton had to make upon entering the QMJHL.
“Everybody is bigger and stronger and faster, so you have to think faster and be ready,” he said.
Travel is a lot different as well.
“It’s a busy schedule but it’s fun,” he said. “And we have a good group of guys. We have French and English players and everybody gets along.
He also says the fans in Sydney are great.
“Sydney is a great place and everybody loves hockey, so it’s fun.”
Beaton and a teammate billet together in Sydney.
“It’s awesome. Me and another guy live with a single mom and she’s really good to us and treats us like we’re one of her own.”
Another benefit of playing in Cape Breton is that his parents get to watch him play more often than they would if he played in Quebec.
“They try to get out as much as possible, and it’s a lot closer than where we were last year, so they can come watch me play,” said Beaton.
Beaton says he misses Springhill.
“I miss home but I’ve gotten used to being away, but it’s always nice when I come back home.”