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Valley hockey players earn recognition from Royal family
Former opponents turned teammates added something else to their list of common traits.
Cowichan Valley Bantam Tier 1 Capitals’ players Ben Berard and Dawson Frank were both selected in the Western Hockey League’s Bantam draft by the Victoria Royals. Berard went in the seventh round, 140th overall, while Frank was an eighth-round selection and 161st overall.
Another teammate, Kyle Topping of Salt Spring Island, was drafted by Kelowna in the 11th round, 226th overall.
Berard, 15, and Frank, who turns 15 in July, are both Grade 9 students at the Quamichan Campus of Cowichan Secondary School.
They first got to know each other in hockey circles on opposite sides, with Frank playing in Campbell River and Berard in Cowichan.
“I hated playing against him,’’ recalled Frank. “He’s too good, he dangled and he scored and he killed us.’’
Berard was mostly on the winning end of those battles with Frank.
“I didn’t mind it,’’ he said. “Campbell River wasn’t too good.’’
Frank decided a change of scenery would be better for his advancement in hockey.
He came to Cowichan for the benefits of “a stronger team, a stronger group of guys,’’ he said.
Frank came to the valley and actually lives with the Berard family as a sort of permanent billet.
The forward combination worked out extremely well for both players and the team. Berard racked up 130 goals and some 255 points last season while Frank compiled 60-plus goals with 140 points.
It’s no wonder the Royals decided to draft them. Being from the island they had a good look at them and determined their future potential could benefit the team down the road.
Both players weren’t aware of any advance hype about their possible selections in the draft.
“I didn’t really know when I was going to be picked,’’ said Berard.
“I was surprised and happy about it,’’ said Frank.
“It’s just good to be picked,’’ conceded Berard.
“It makes you feel good and makes you feel like you’re doing something good,’’ added Frank.
Both players aren’t certain what next season will bring, but potentially a huge transition toward higher levels.
Frank is aiming to make the B.C. Major Midget League’s North Island Silvertips.
Berard is potentially looking at the Major Midget South Island Royals or possibly staying in Cowichan and playing for the Midget Tier 1 Capitals.
“I don’t know yet,’’ he said.
It’s been a busy stretch of hockey lately for the dynamic duo.
Frank is actually still playing with the Mid-Island Monarchs spring team that just competed in a tournament on the Lower Mainland and is heading to Seattle next in early June.
Frank and Berard were part of a huge Cowichan contingent that recently attended the Under 16 B.C. Cup tournament in Salmon Arm. Topping, Brayden Nelson, Kei Lowes, Dylan Hartl, Derek Krall and Brad Bagnall were also there.
“I played all right,’’ said Berard. “We both made it to the next round in Nanaimo.’’
“It was good,’’ said Frank. “I didn’t think that I was going to do it. I didn’t think I played that well. Obviously, they (selectors) didn’t think that.’’
It was a bad omen for Frank playing on the team called the Sabres at the camp. They came last.
“It was awful,’’ he conceded.
Berard fared better on the Bruins’ team that placed third.
The provincial camp in Nanaimo takes place in July.