The list of Chilliwackians who’ve been drafted by National Hockey League teams isn’t a long one.
Don Martineau was the first in 1972, followed by Dennis Anderson in 1973, Brian Andersen in 1974, Dave McLay in 1984, Dave Archibald in 1987, Nathan Martz in 2000 and Grant Rollheiser in 2008.
And now, Ethan Bowen.
The 18-year-old forward was selected in the seventh round (207th overall) of Wednesday’s NHL entry draft by the Anaheim Ducks.
“Anaheim is a pretty sweet organization and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” Bowen said. “I don’t know a whole lot about them yet, but I know they have a winning history and they always seem to have good teams.”
Wednesday capped off a crazy couple of weeks for the teenager.
“Two weeks before the draft, my phone was blowing up with scouts trying to get ahold of me,” Bowen said. “My agent was talking to me too, telling me who was interested and where he thought I’d go. It was hectic, but also a lot of fun.”
In a normal year, Bowen and other draft hopefuls would have attended some sort of combine event where teams could have conducted physical testing and in-person interviews, but the NHL combine that was supposed to take place last June in Buffalo was cancelled due to COVID.
Bowen had to navigate through a series of interviews on the phone or online, fielding questions that ranged from normal to bizarre.
“They ask some super personal questions to try to get to know you, and they throw some trick questions at you as well just to see how you’ll answer, and get a sense of your true morals,” Bowen explained. “Some people ask if you drink alcohol or do drugs or if you’re on Tinder. They ask if you’ve got a girlfriend and how long you’re dating. They’re trying to pick your brain to see who you really are.”
On the bizarre side, one scout asked Bowen what his favourite desert was and somehow tied it back into hockey.
“It was probably the weirdest question I’ve ever had to answer, and I didn’t really know how to answer it,” Bowen said with a laugh. “It was the weirdest thing.”
Bowen talked to Anaheim a lot, and had a gut feeling he’d end up a Duck.
It took a few rounds longer than he expected though. Rated a mid-round pick by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, he hoped to go three or four rounds higher than he did.
“It was pretty nerve-wrecking, and the (broken hand) injury I sustained last year obviously came back and bit me in the butt,” Bowen said. “Not seeing my name called through six rounds, I was like, ‘Come on!’
“But I’d happy I got drafted, no matter what round.”
Of the players we mentioned off the top, only Martineau and Archibald ever played big-league games.
The odds are long that a seventh rounder will make it to the top, but it does happen. Bowen has one more year in Chilliwack followed by up to four with NCAA powerhouse North Dakota. The journey is just starting and he has no idea where he’ll end up.
“I’ve given my whole life to the sport and getting drafted by an NHL team, and having it happen feels like a 45,000 pound weight being lifted off my chest,” Bowen said. “It’s a dream come true and it’s hard to put into words what I’m feeling right now.”
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