Kelowna’s first pick in this month’s bantam draft, Ethan Bowen, has committed to the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs. -Image: Stinkylockers.com

Bowen commits to Chiefs, Rockets undeterred

Kelowna draft pick Ethan Bowen plans to join Chilliwack as an AP for the 2017-18 RBC Cup season.

In choosing to draft Ethan Bowen earlier this month, the Kelowna Rockets knew there would be some stiff competition to land the services of the young centre.

The Chilliwack Chiefs announced this week that Bowen has committed to the B.C. Hockey League club for the 2018-19 season.

In a media release, the BCHL team said the 15-year-old forward will also play for the Chiefs this coming season as an AP when Chilliwack hosts the RBC Cup championship.

Bowen was a consensus top-10 prospect for the 2017 WHL bantam draft, but because the NCAA was a serious consideration for the Yale Academy product, WHL clubs were reluctant to jeopardize one of their earlier selections.

When Kelowna’s first choice arrived in the second round, 39th overall, the Rockets decided it was worth the risk to take Bowen.

Because Bowen’s commitment to the Chiefs isn’t binding, Kelowna assistant GM Lorne Frey said his club will continue to pursue the Chilliwack native.

“As far as we know, he’s still coming to our training camp this fall,” Frey said of Bowen. “It’s up to us to sell him on our program, have him meet our coaches and see our organization, and convince him this is the place for him to be.

“We knew he had options when we drafted him, so we’ll see where it all goes.”

Upon being drafted by the Rockets, Bowen reacted this way: “Kelowna is a great organization and I’m very happy to have a great WHL option,” he said. “I really appreciate the opportunity to be associated with the Rockets. It’s a great organization with a great history of success.”

The Chiefs’ release also indicated Bowen has accepted a full scholarship from the University of North Dakota for the 2020-2021 season.

Bowen explained his decision to opt for the BCHL and NCAA route. “Thanks to guys like Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro and Dennis Cholowski, the BCHL has demonstrated to younger players like myself that you can play Junior A and college and not fall off the radar with Hockey Canada and the NHL,” Bowen said.

Last season with Yale Academy’s Bantam Prep team, Bowen had 33 goals and 62 points in 29 games.