Maple Ridge hockey prospect Tyson Phare was selected in the first round of the Western Hockey League bantam draft on Thursday morning.
Phare was crowded around the computer at 8:30 a.m. watching the draft live from Calgary over the internet with his parents Kirk and Karen, when the Prince George Cougars called his name with their 18th overall pick. There were hugs all around at the Phare home.
He had his fingers crossed. He knew the Cougars liked him, and they didn’t have another pick until the third round of the draft.
It was one of the teams that was high on Tyson’s list – a good organization, and with lots of games in Langley, Kelowna, Victoria and Kamloops, and lots of opportunity for family to come and see him play.
“It’s a good B.C. team, and I wanted to play close-ish to home,” he said.
Phare played last season as a Grade 9 with the Yale Hockey Academy U-16 team in Abbotsford, where he put up 18 goals and 40 points in 28 games played.
The year prior he was with the Ridge Meadows Rustlers bantam A1 team, and had 29 goals and 46 points in 33 games. He also had a pee wee season with his hometown team, and prior to that came up through the Burnaby Winter Club.
Phare said the season with the Yale academy has made him a more polished player.
“I feel it has helped me a lot, being on the ice a lot, and being in a hockey environment all the time.”
His favourite player is Anaheim Ducks star Ryan Getzlaf, and he tries to emulate the big power forward. He can score goals, keeps himself in responsible defensive position, and also likes to dish the puck.
“I like to get my teammates involved.”
Next season he would like to play either major midget or in the U18 program at Yale.
This summer he is part of the provincial program of excellence, and will go to a camp in Shawnigan Lake from July 11-16 with 60 of B.C.’s best U-16 players. In early October they will make selections for Team B.C., to play in the Western U-16 Challenge Cup in Calgary that month.
“It’s the best tournament around. I would be ecstatic if I could make that team,” he said.
Karen said her son will be playing hockey relatively close to home, considering other franchises in the WHL where he might havelanded.
“We had a lot of talks with Prince George, and that was one of the teams he wanted to go to,” she said. “My husband played for the Brandon Wheat Kings, and that was very far from home.”
“We’re super excited,” she added.
There are two other Maple Ridge hockey players that have been chosen for BC Hockey programs. Goaltender Jayden Prickette was invited to the BC Under-15 BC Camp in Penticton on May 11-14.
“He’s a very good goaltender, and he’s really developed his game over the past couple of years,” said Maple Ridge Minor Hockey Association president Scott Falconer.
Eric Clark, who is also at the Yale Hockey Academy, will join Phare at the BC U-16 camp in Shawnigan Lake.
“They are both going to get a lot of attention,” said Falconer.