WHL rookie season experience builder

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After playing in three successful seasons through bantam and midget, Airdrie’s Brandon Machado, 17, made the jump to junior hockey with the Western Hockey League (WHL)’s Saskatoon Blades in October 2017.

“I knew coming into this year there was a lot to prove still, even having (had) a pretty good past two seasons,” Machado said. “I still wanted to keep improving as a player.

“Coming in and finding out I made the team was pretty exciting, and felt like all the hard work was starting to pay off. I know there is still a lot of hard work ahead of me.”

Since cracking the roster, Machado’s role has changed drastically, but he said he anticipated the transition and feels the role he is playing is best for the team.

Machado, who was a point-per-game player the past three seasons, has mustered just one goal and two assists in 42 games with the Blades.

“This year, my role wasn’t going to be a big one, but I’m hoping to prove to the coaching staff, coming in next year and the years after, that I can handle those bigger roles,” Machado said. “I know what I’m capable of offensively…this year, it’s more about doing what the team needs to win.

Although he is not producing at the rate he had hoped he would be, Machado said he is focused on his complete game and playing a more defensively-sound role.

Machado added he has been working on rounding out his role, and the fruits of his labour paid off last season when he was named the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League’s Top Defensive Forward with the CFR Chemical Bisons.

“In the past couple of years, I have taken it more to heart with improving my game at both ends of the ice, not just offensively but defensively, as well,” Machado said.

“Taking pride in both ends helps you become a more complete player and that’s what I want to be.”

Despite not putting up the same offensive numbers he is accustomed to, Machado has gained a wealth of major junior experience in his rookie campaign – appearing in 42 games with the Blades and being one of the best face-off players on the squad.

Machado said playing as a rookie will help him in future seasons, since he won’t have to get re-accustomed to the pace of the game after sitting out for extended periods of time.

“Coming in as a rookie, you don’t expect to be in those top minutes that the older guys are going to get,” Machado said.

“The most you can do is take it in game by game and learn each game from the older guys in how they do things and how they handle themselves.”

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