For one season at least, Chilliwack’s Ryan Bowen is staying home.
The 16 year old has chosen to play for the Chiefs in 2014-15 rather than pursue major junior hockey.
Bowen is a fifth round bantam draft pick of the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors, and could have made a run at a roster spot with the Manitoba-based team.
But the teenager, who self-scouts himself as a puck-handling play-making centre, thought a year of junior A would be better for his development.
“Jason (new Chiefs coach and GM Tatarnic) presented an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down,” Bowen said. “While it’s true I signed a WHL contract, Jason understood my desire to be a contributing player at 16. We decided together that the best thing right now for my development, as a player in a situation where I could have a meaningful impact on a team, is with the Chiefs.”
Bowen spent last season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s U18 midget prep team.
In 41 games, he scored 12 goals and added 20 assists.
He skated at the Chiefs spring camp two weekends ago, impressing Tatarnic.
“During spring camp our job was to identify talented players,” the coach said. “This player did a number of things well and every time I checked the name with the number it was Ryan. He is a talented player and we look forward to being part of his development. He may have a bright future ahead of him. I think he’s very excited to play in his hometown.”
Bowen is definitely excited to play for the Chiefs.
“I have a lot of respect for the guys that have come before me like Doug Ast, Paul Nicolls, Nathan Martz and Cam Campbell just to name a few,” he said. “I grew up watching the franchise and am excited to now be a part of it. The clincher was Jason Tatarnic and listening to what kind of team he wants to build here. I’m excited to be a part of it and still can’t believe I have the opportunity to play in my home town.”