Sunday, December 01, 2013

Drayson Bowman: Vancouver's kinda-sorta hometown product

Six years after his draft, Drayson Bowman appears to be finally
sticking with Carolina. So what has that go to do with Vancouver?
(Photo: romec1, Flickr)

Back in the Memorial Cup days of the Vancouver Giants -- a far cry from the current "Under Construction" era -- I always paid a little extra attention when the Spokane Chiefs came to town. Nowadays, it's anytime the Canucks play the Carolina Hurricanes.

Why, exactly? There's a little-known fact about a Carolina winger who has very slowly started making a name for himself since being drafted from Spokane in 2007. Born in Michigan and raised in Colorado, 24-year-old Drayson Bowman also called Vancouver home for a brief period in his mid-teens.

At 14 years old, Bowman moved to the Lower Mainland with his family to better the prospects for his budding hockey career. Shirking the usual NCAA route that aspiring players south of the border follow, Bowman had intentions to play in the WHL on the advice of a family acquaintance by the name of Patrick Roy. Though he would have been eligible for the WHL Draft as a Colorado resident nonetheless, Bowman's drive to play major junior in Canada brought him and his family to Vancouver.

So when Bowman wasn't tearing up the local bantam league with the North Shore Winter Club, he was the new kid at a truly obscure K-10 private school in East Van. My private school to be exact -- with all 60 of us between Grades 8, 9 and 10. Needless to say, for the next two years, gym class was a true adventure in terror and humility. I tell ya, if not for ice hockey, the guy had professional dodgeball in his future.

(Somewhere in a box of saved high school report cards and those little tiny picture day photos you get from your crushes, there's a day planner signed by Bowman the day he left for Junior B in Kimberley. eBay, anyone?)
Yearbook photos or it didn't happen? Well I'm glad you asked!

So while most Canucks fans have this goal and this goal to hold against the Littleton-native, I will personally have a Drayson-less Grade 8/9 ball hockey team to forever regret. ("Uhh...I already have a hockey team.") It was just one day of competition, Drayson. One day.

Intending to get greater exposure to Canadian junior scouts, the irony of it all is that he ended up being selected eighth overall by the Spokane Chiefs -- one of five American teams in the Dub. Nonetheless, he had fast-tracked his career and went on to be a second-round selection by Carolina in 2007. Remaining in Spokane two more years, he posted consecutive 40-goal seasons and scored the game-winning goal in the Memorial Cup final, paving the way for, well -- this.

Well, what'd you think would happen with the Memorial Cup in the hands of an American team?

By 2009, Bowman had cracked the 'Canes roster in his first year out of junior, but has since struggled to take the next real step from 10 minutes of ice time a game. With Alex Semin out of the lineup for the past eight games, however, Bowman's been getting a regular shift on the power play and with the Hurricanes down a goal in the last minute this afternoon against Vancouver, there he was on the ice.

Progress has been slow, but as of the end of the lockout, he's succeeded at sticking with the Hurricanes -- seemingly for good. And while Bowman appeared to be ahead of ex-Hurricanes Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Welsh on the depth chart anyways, thanks to the Canucks' trade, his spot in Carolina's bottom six is far safer this year.

Looks like a full decade after his days with the North Shore, Vancouver's continuing to do his career a solid.

Not that the VCS ball hockey team could say the same about Bowman. But I suppose he had slightly bigger fish to fry.


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