Bantam picks Bowen and Willms commit to WHL
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Brody Willms makes a glove save in the Moose Jaw Warriors Black-White intrasquad game Sunday at Mosaic Place.
A pair of Penticton boys couldn’t be happier to be trading the mild Okanagan weather for a future of winters in Moose Jaw.
Monday Ryan Bowen and Brody Willms signed Western Hockey League standard player agreements with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The pair are both from Penticton, B.C. and are products of the city’s Okanagan Hockey Academy.
Bowen, a centre, was the Warriors’ fifth round pick. Willms, a goalie, was taken in the eighth round.
“I was really excited when this all went down (Sunday). I couldn’t be more honoured to be a part of such a great organization,” said Bowen who will make his Warriors debut tonight in their annual rookie game in Swift Current.
“It’s been a great experience at camp,” added Bowen. “I got to play with some new players and I’m really looking forward to playing in the rookie game (Tuesday).”
Given where they were drafted neither was expected to necessarily commit to the team so early, but both have had strong camps.
Willms has arguably been the most consistent goalie in camp outside of starter Justin Paulic.
“It’s definitely a lot faster and shots are a lot harder. It took me a practice to get used to that and the faster pace of the older guys,” said Willms.
“I felt like I was playing with confidence out there. That’s how I want to play.”
Bowen scored 21 goals and had 52 points in 55 games last season with OHA. He was 5-foot-8 and 135 pounds when they Warriors drafted him, but he’s grown an inch-and-a-half over the summer and added 10 pounds. He was still one of the lightest players in camp, but he didn’t play like it. Bowen used his speed and skill to pretty good effect.
“It’s hard to play against big guys when you’re my size, but I just tried to battle through,” said Bowen. “I tried to be physical and compete hard.”
Willms had a 24-5-2 record a year ago and had a 1.95 goals-against-average.
Willms can’t make the team this year, but with Daniel Wapple — who turned 18 in March — as the old man of the group, there are a lot of young goalies who will be battling for ice time in the future.
“It’s definitely tougher as a goalie to crack the roster and make it main camp,” said Willms. “There’s only four spots, but I felt I did well and was able to make it in with the older guys.
“I’m very excited to be signed. It’s a huge privilege to be with the Warriors organization.”
Both Bowen and Willms will be heading back to OHA for the start of their season and with no chance of making the team this year they’re looking to make the most of tonight’s pre-season game.
“I’m looking to enjoy the experience and hopefully get a win,” said Willms.