Maine Hockey Journal

Busy week in British Columbia for Brunswick native

LEWISTON – Tyler Niven knew he wanted to play college hockey.

“I knew from a young age when I would go to Bowdoin games, and I was like ‘yeah’ I want to play college hockey. I wanted to do this with my life and kind of hone in on it and make sure this happens,” said Niven.

After spending two seasons (2010-2012) with Brunswick High School, he transferred to Governor’s Academy, a prep school located in Byfield, Massachusetts where he spent the last three years. He repeated his sophomore year, a common occurrence for kids transferring to a prep school.

Last season, he scored a goal and three assists in 25 games.

Now he is taking the road most traveled for players from New England, who want a shot at playing Division I college hockey. He and his father made the trip to Langley, British Columbia in the last week where he signed to play for the Langley Rivermen of the British Columbia Hockey League, one of the top Junior “A” Hockey Leagues in Canada.

Junior A leagues let players keep their NCAA eligibility, unlike the three major junior hockey leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League, the QMJHL, OHL, and WHL.

He was only in Langley for 12 hours before getting the call that he had been traded to the Penticton Vees, one of the top teams within the BCHL.

He knew he would consider the BCHL after his prep school career was over after attending a camp last summer.

“I went to a showcase last summer in Las Vegas and met up with Coach (Bobby) Henderson at Langley,” Niven said. “I talked to him a little bit about coming out this year and I liked the spot. I came up for (spring) camp (this year) and really liked it. I liked the league obviously, and all set to come out for Langley and I got out here Monday. Tuesday morning I found out I got traded to Penticton.”

He has been pleased by the facilities in Penticton in which the Vancouver Canucks will use for the Young Stars Classic, a rookie tournament from Sept. 11-14 involving their prospects and prospects from the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Winnipeg Jets organizations.

The 6-foot-0, 190-pound defenseman, who was the captain for Governor’s Academy, was dealt to the Vees for forward Mitch Newsome.

Newsome is committed to Michigan Tech for the 2016-’17 season.

Penticton has nine players already committed to play Division I college hockey as well as Scott Conway, who played at Penn State last season. Dante Fabbro and Tyson Jost, who both are looking at the NCAA route, are two potential players that are potential first-round picks in next year’s NHL draft.

“There’s a lot of history here too and everybody I talk to outside of Penticton has said ‘Oh My God, you are lucky to be going here. The place is unbelievable,” Niven said. “It’s a historic program. You’re surrounded by greatness.”

When the Vees were known as the Penticton Panthers, Paul Kariya played for them before heading to the University of Maine. In the 2011-2012 season, they won the Royal Bank Cup, the Canadian Junior “A” National Championship, which included going 54-4-2 in the regular season. They returned to the Royal Bank Cup last season losing in the semifinals.

The Vees have scouted New England in the past as they had three players play for them last season that played prep hockey in New England before joining the Vees. The Vernon Vipers were one of the first BCHL teams to sign New England players in which some of their alumni include Maine defenseman Mark Hamilton (Winthrop, Mass.) and former Boston University defenseman Garrett Noonan (Norfolk, Mass.).

“I think the hardest part of it is getting looks from (BCHL teams). You are on the other side of the (continent),” Niven said. “It’s tough, but it’s an option for New England kids. A lot of kids want to go to the USHL or go play in the (Midwest), but I had an opportunity to go all the way to Vancouver and said why not. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s gorgeous out here, and it’s as good as the (USHL).”

Training camp opens next Tuesday. Niven said he’s one of the only guys in Penticton right now. The regular season opens September 11 where they start on the road against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

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