By Greg Price
Thursday will mark another step in Taberite Dylan Nevil’s young hockey career.
Tomorrow will mark the prospect camp for the Moose Jaw Warriors that Nevil will be attending.
The forward for the Lethbridge Matteoti “AA” Golden Hawks was selected in the seventh round, 150th overall by the Warriors in the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft earlier this month.
“I was nervous and excited at the same time. I was in Calgary then driving home, watching on the (WHL) app, seeing when I would go. Then I finally got home (to Taber) and see my name pop up, I was overwhelmed with everything and it was an unreal feeling,” said Nevil.
As it turned out, Nevil was a part of a history-making day for the Golden Hawks, as six players from the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League championship team were selected.
Defenceman Bowen Byram (third overall to the Vancouver Giants), goaltender Byron Fancy (second round, 24th overall to the Red Deer Rebels), defenceman Carson Dyck (second round, 26th overall to the Swift Current Broncos), defenceman Nic Draffin (third round 46th overall to the Red Deer Rebels) and Mike Horon (ninth round, 190th overall to the Everett Silvertips) were all drafted.
“It’s been I three years before a (Golden Hawks) player has even been drafted I think. Having this many players drafted (at once) is certainly the exception and not the rule,” said Mike Dyck, head coach of the Val Matteoti Golden Hawks ‘AAA’ bantam team. “It’s a direct correlation to how we had success as a team. The team hasn’t had this success in a long time.”
For the 2015/2016 season, the five-foot-11, 165-pound, right-shooting forward was able to tally 15 goals and 18 assists in 26 games for the Golden Hawks.
“He’s a good-sized right winger that skates and shoots the puck well, who plays a physical game,” said Dyck. “He brought us a heavy game and scored some big goals for us. He did a pretty good job of creating space for us along the boards and was a good teammate and was obviously awarded for it.”
Nevil tipped his hat to the Golden Hawks coaching staff for helping elevate his overall game in order to get noticed by WHL scouts.
“My trainer too (former NHLer) Brad Lukowich who is from Lethbridge. He’s helped develop me,” said Nevil. “When I first started playing I could barely skate, about second-year peewee, everything started to come around and when I hit bantam and got to Lethbridge, the coaches helped me out so much. I owe so much to them. I’d say my skating has been my biggest improvement.”
Nevil’s WHL draft selection came with some adversity for him to earn it as the power forward broke his collarbone in mid-January. Helping his team in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League championship seemed but a dream when Nevil was told of his initial recovery time.
“Even when I was hurt, I still loved watching the team and being around them. My teammates helped me the most (in recovery). When I had my injury, they were always talking to me and getting my mind off of it. Our whole success came from how tight of a team we were, it was such a bonded team. One of my doctors said 16 weeks I’d be out and I came back in nine. That injury pushed me even harder and once I got to play, I played even harder to show them I was at 100 per cent again. ” said Nevil. “The first couple of shifts I was nervous. I was more excited than anything. It was Game Three of the finals and if we won, we won the championship and the rink was packed. By the time the second period rolled around, everything started to click again and I settled down.”
As Nevil attends Thursday’s prospect camp, he will be coming off the momentum of a Golden Hawks season which brought an AMBHL title to Lethbridge and then a bronze last month at the Western Canadian Bantam Championship in Okotoks. All told, the Golden Hawks excelled in every tournament they were in for the 2015/2016 season.
“We played in the top four tournaments in Western Canada, among the elite,” said Dyck. “We won one, the Rocky Mountain in Calgary. We finished in third in the Pat Quinn in Vancouver and in the Western Canadian Championship. We finished fourth in another. No other team in Western Canada consistently finished in the top four. There were other teams that won tournaments, but no other team had our consistent competitiveness.”
Nevil noted the prospect camp will likely be a bit of an eye opener for him to what expectations will be for rookie camp in August.
“We get there Thursday and we all have a nice little supper when we get there. On Friday, we will get out and do some dryland training and go to Mosaic Place which is their brand-new arena being two years old. We’ll do a dressing-room tour and then go back on the ice. Wake up the next morning on Saturday and do the same thing over again. The Sunday will be player and general manger meetings,” said Nevil. “I was just want to get to know everyone and the coaching staff. It will be a little awkward the first day not knowing anyone, but I ‘m sure everyone will click pretty quick.”