Ex-Bruins duo aims to light it up with Heat

During their two seasons as linemates with the Western Hockey League's Chilliwack Bruins, Ryan Howse and Roman Horak shared an explosive chemistry, but it wasn't necessarily rocket science.

Ryan Howse (left) gloves an airborne puck during Young Stars Tournament action against the San Jose Sharks in Penticton.

Ryan Howse (left) gloves an airborne puck during Young Stars Tournament action against the San Jose Sharks in Penticton.

During their two seasons as linemates with the Western Hockey League’s Chilliwack Bruins, Ryan Howse and Roman Horak shared an explosive chemistry, but it wasn’t necessarily rocket science.

At least, that’s the way Horak makes it sound.

“It’s easy to play with him – I just pass it to him, and he scores,” said Horak, a 20-year-old centre from the Czech Republic who arrived in Chilliwack in the fall of 2009.

“Even the first few games after I came to Canada, it was easy to play with him. I don’t know why, but we just kind of clicked.”

That simple equation – Horak passing, Howse shooting – added up to big numbers for the Bruins the past two seasons. Between them, they accounted for nearly one-third of Chilliwack’s goals over that period.

The duo are hoping to continue their collaboration this fall with the Abbotsford Heat. Both 1991-born players are eligible to turn pro in the Calgary Flames’ minor league system for the first time.

Howse was selected by the Flames in the third round of the 2009 NHL entry draft, and Horak, originally drafted by the New York Rangers, joined him in the Calgary prospects queue via trade this past June.

Howse was positively giddy when he found out his Bruins running mate was joining the Flames.

“I was actually in Calgary at the time, and I remember it perfectly,” he said with a wide grin. “I got a call from my dad – he found out first, before anyone, I don’t know how. He told me Roman got traded (to the Flames), and I thought he was kidding.

“And then a couple minutes later Jay (Feaster, Flames GM) called me and said they’d gotten Roman. That was pretty neat.

“Playing pretty much every shift with him the last two years was pretty special. Hopefully we can continue on with that and write a new chapter in Abbotsford.”

Both Howse and Horak are excited about the possibility of beginning their pro careers in Abbotsford, just down the road from where they played their junior hockey. The odd thing of it is, their old junior club is no longer in Chilliwack – in April, the Bruins were sold to Graham Lee of Victoria’s RG Properties, who moved the club to the provincial capital.

It was a heartbreaking turn of events for Chilliwack hockey fans, and for Bruins players as well. Howse, in particular, was sad to see the team go, after investing so much of himself in the franchise over the years. He was the first bantam draft choice in Bruins history – third overall in 2005 – and finished as the team’s career leader in goals (140), points (217) and games played (262).

“That was my second home,” he said. “And now I have nothing. I feel like I don’t have a junior team to go back to. That makes it a little bit more tough at the end of the day.

“I don’t think they (the fans) deserved that. Maybe a lot of people didn’t come out, but I know the regulars were out there supporting 100 per cent, night in and night out. It’s definitely a little disappointing.”

As with most young players, Howse and Horak can expect to hit some speed bumps as they make the transition to pro hockey. Howse, listed at 6’0″, 205 pounds, has already drawn some constructive criticism from Feaster concerning his nutrition and fitness.

Heat head coach Troy Ward noted that Howse will be under a lot of scrutiny this season, having racked up 47 and 51 goals over his past two WHL campaigns. But watching him at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton this week, Ward said Howse has handled himself well on and off the ice.

“I was proud of him,” Ward said. “Are there adjustments he needs to make physically? Sure there are. But the one thing you saw with him is, when he’s got the puck or he’s around the play, he can make plays.”

Horak scored a goal at the Young Stars event, beating San Jose Sharks keeper J.P. Anderson on a penalty shot to account for the Flames prospects’ lone tally in a 6-1 loss on Sunday. Ward called him “a very intelligent player.”

“It was nice for him to get a finish,” he said. “I think it’s good for his confidence going forward.”


• The Flames prospects wrapped up their three-game run in Penticton with a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday evening. Sven Baertschi scored twice, while Dustin Sylvester and Lance Bouma added singles. Joni Ortio, making his third straight start in goal, turned aside 20 of 23 shots.

The Flames went 1-1-1 at the Penticton tourney, including the loss to San Jose and a 4-3 OT defeat to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

• The Flames prospects are now back in Calgary for the beginning of main camp, and play an exhibition game against the University of Calgary Dinos on Friday evening.

Roman Horak (above right) was a top point producer with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins. (Jenna Hauck photo / Black Press)

Just Posted

RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Agassiz toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Woody’s RV World hosts a grand opening for its brand-new Abbotsford location on Saturday. (YouTube)
Woody’s RV World hosts Abbotsford grand opening on Saturday

First-ever B.C. location for successful RV chain, located on Marshall Road

Langley’s Coral Hamade and Alberta’s Ella Gifford have signed with the UFV Cascades women’s golf program. (Submitted)
Langley’s Coral Hamade, Alberta’s Ella Gifford sign with UFV Cascades golf

First-ever Cascades Scholarship Golf Tournament set for Thursday at Chilliwack Golf Club

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctos urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read