Sports

Bakken ready to lead ‘family’

Ryan Bakken, a Langley Minor Hockey Association product and one of two locals on the roster, was named the Rivermen’s first captain prior to the start of his final season of junior hockey. - Garrett James
Ryan Bakken, a Langley Minor Hockey Association product and one of two locals on the roster, was named the Rivermen’s first captain prior to the start of his final season of junior hockey.
— image credit: Garrett James

The ‘F’ word is a big word around the Langley Rivermen.

In separate interviews, both head coach Steve O’Rourke and captain Ryan Bakken mention family.

“Ryan is like a parent out there,” O’Rourke explains.

“And when he sees something not right, he makes sure that gets taken care of.”

The head coach was referring to the dressing room, and how it is usually up to the rookies to make sure the Rivermen room stays clean.

When the time came for O’Rourke to tap the new captain of the junior A hockey club, Bakken was a pretty easy choice.

For one, Bakken is one of the only two 20-year-olds on the roster — the other is power forward Darnell Dyck, and another was that the team only had five returnees from last season.

It also helped that Bakken — a local kid who played in the Langley Minor Hockey Association — had experience at the junior A level, plus he showed an outstanding commitment during the summer doing off-ice work for the club.

“He showed commitment to his team, the organization, the community,” O’Rourke explained. “He always made time for it and put a lot of hours into it.

“And his presence and patience on the ice are good for the younger guys.”

For his part, Bakken is just happy the off-season is over and it is time to play hockey.

“This is probably the most excited I have even been for a season,” he said.

“I couldn’t wait to stop training and just get on the ice.”

This is his first time as a captain, although he was an assistant on his midget team back in minor hockey.

“It is awesome, this is my hometown,” Bakken said. “I got to watch all the Langley (junior) teams come through here and now I am the captain.

“It is unbelievable.”

“It is nice when everyone listens to you and looks up to you in the room,” he admitted.

“I have been in the league for a few years now so they know that I know what it takes to be successful.”

This is Bakken’s third full season in Langley after a stint in the Western Hockey League.

The 6-1, 195-pound defenceman entered the season with three goals and 26 assists in 106 career games.

Bakken knows he has his work to do as captain of a young squad, especially one that has only five players out 21 with experience at the B.C. Hockey League level.

But he is up for the challenge.

“I expect them to come in and fill roles pretty quickly because that is what we need to make the playoffs, especially with only the top four teams making it,” he said.

“You really have to groom the young guys. They are inexperienced and come from all over the place.

“You have to create a family mentality in the dressing room because everyone is away from home, so you want to make this a home away from home.”

On the ice, Bakken hopes to become more of an offensive player for the team, which O’Rourke sees no problem happening.

“He is a pretty good puck-mover for us; he is able to get the puck in our zone and get that first pass and then join the rush,” the coach explained. “He helps our whole attack really.

“He leads by example and makes some good plays for us.”

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