Ryan Bowen was sitting in science class on May 2 when he got the news.
He was trying hard to focus on what the teacher was saying.
Really he was.
Then he saw his phone ring.
It was his dad calling with some exciting news.
The Moose Jaw Warriors had just selected the Chilliwack kid in the fifth round of the bantam draft.
“They contacted me almost right away, and told me they were very happy to have picked me 94th overall,” Bowen said.
And Moose Jaw general manager Alan Millar had more to say.
“He said the team’s plan is hopefully to have me play as a 16-year-old, and run their power play at 17,” Bowen said. “I hope I can live up to their expectations.”
Heady stuff indeed for a 14-year-old. The right winger is back in town now, already working to get ready for training camp.
Bowen will spend next season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s midget prep squad. Before that, he’ll be skating at the Male U-16 BC Hockey Provincial camp. The camp includes the top 24 forwards, 14 defencemen and six goalies in the province. It takes place July 10-14 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre, giving Bowen plenty to prepare for.
“The plan this summer is to concentrate on hockey and train with Paul Nicolls at the Xceed Training Center,” Bowen said. “Paul is the strength and conditioning coordinator for the Chilliwack Chiefs and has trained me since I was nine.”
The coaching staff at OHA includes former National Hockey Leaguers Dixon Ward and Mike Needham.
Bowen’s dad, Steven, says Needham, a Stanley Cup champion with Pittsburgh in 1992, has been essential to his son’s development.
“Ryan always loved hockey from a very young age, but as a December-born kid he always developed a little later than most of his age group,” Steven said. “Needham had a profound effect on him as a player. He challenged him all year on areas to improve his game, and it all seemed to come together toward the end of the season.”
Among the 227 players drafted through 12 rounds, Bowen was the only one with Chilliwack roots.
But with CMHA taking positive steps with their coaching and development programs, he hopes he represents the start of a trend.
“I think it reflects well on Chilliwack minor hockey and I think it shows that CMHA is going in the right direction,” he said. “Chilliwack has made a lot of great improvements over the last few years, and I hope I’m the first of many more in the future.”
Get the full bantam draft results online at whl.ca/prospects