A fourth-year junior hockey player will have had plenty of time to absorb leadership lessons in the dressing room.
“I’ve watched the three captains I’ve had here and the biggest thing I learned is that you earn respect,” said Tyler Waram.
It is not given to you.
The 20-year-old blue-liner was named captain of the Victoria Grizzlies ahead of the 2023-24 B.C. Hockey League regular-season opener tonight in Surrey against the Eagles. That will be followed by a game Saturday in Chilliwack against the Chiefs.
“I play a hard-working defensive game,” said Waram.
That hasn’t gone unnoticed as the dual citizen, who grew up in Edmonds, Washington, has quietly earned the respect of his coaches and teammates.
“Tyler does everything the right way. He exemplifies what it means to be a Grizzlie,” said head coach and GM Rylan Ferster.
“He was part of our shutdown pairing last season with [San Jose Sharks draft pick and former captain Eli Barnett, now in NCAA with the University of Vermont Catamounts] and they played against the other teams’ top line every night. That’s not easy and not always fun but those two guys loved the challenge of it.”
Ferster places so much value on the captain’s role that he said: “If you had to replace the team logo on the front of the jersey, you would replace it with a picture of your captain.”
The six-foot-one, 192 pound, rearguard Waram is consistently rated the most fit Grizzlies player in testing. He will head a leadership group that includes assistant captains Luc Pelletier, a forward from Courtenay committed to NCAA Div. 1 Princeton of the Ivy League, defenceman Nathan King from Victoria, committed to NCAA Div. 1 Merrimack, and forward Jacksenn Hungle from Victoria.
Unlike his assistant captains, who came up in Island hockey, Waram played his youth hockey in the Seattle area.
“It’s a lot different than here,” said Waram, whose parents are Canadian and now living in Victoria.
“Hockey is behind football, basketball and baseball in Washington state, and hockey is a very close group, where everybody knows everybody.”
One thing is certain — Waram got to know his chosen sport well.
The Grizzlies are at Powell River next Friday before their home opener Oct. 1 at The Q Centre against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
The defending Coastal Conference champion and 2022-23 BCHL runner-up Alberni Valley Bulldogs open the season tonight in Coquitlam against the Express and the Nanaimo Clippers are at the Big Stick to take on the Capitals in Duncan.
The BCHL, which produces an avalanche of NCAA Div.1 players, begins its new era as an independent Junior A League after bolting from Hockey Canada on July 1.
LOOSE PUCKS: The Grizzlies made a roster move on the eve of opening night, picking up defenceman Deven Nagra from the Langley Rivermen in exchange for a player development fee. The 20-year-old Nagra, who hails from Vaughan, Ont., had two goals and 10 assists in 42 games for the Rivermen last season.