For two members of the Langley-based Vancouver Giants, winning silver for Canada at the 2021 IIHF world juniors in Edmonton was just one of many shared experiences.
The story of the relationship between Giants defenceman Bowen Byram and head coach Michael Dyck dates back to 2014, when the then-13-year-old Byram started playing for the Lethbridge, Alberta Golden Hawks U15 AAA team coached by Dyck.
Since Byram’s hometown of Cranbrook didn’t have a U15 AAA program, he and his family moved to the closest city that did.
Having sharpened his skills under Dyck’s tutelage, in 2016, Byram was selected third overall in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft by the Vancouver Giants and he made the move out west.
After spending the 2016-17 season with the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, Byram cracked the Giants’ line-up in the fall of 2017 and was joined in Vancouver a year later by Dyck, fresh off leading the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a bronze medal at the 2018 TELUS Cup.
Over the years, Dyck has been coach, friend and confidant for Byram, who gets to see the off-ice side of his mentor.
“He has been a huge influence on my life, not only in hockey but also as a person,” Byram told the Hockey Canada website.
“He’s an intense guy but a lot of fun to be around away from the rink, and he definitely knows what he’s talking about when it gets down to business. I’m very lucky to have him in my life.”
“I take a lot of pride in Bow’s development,” Dyck said.
“I look back to the first year I coached him in Vancouver, and the amount of pressure that was on him. He has been able to handle a lot of the pressures that go along with being an elite player and it’s going to set him up for his career at the next level.”
Giants made a run to Game 7 of the WHL final in 2019 (with Byram leading the playoffs in scoring), and Byram also broke out internationally, helping Canada Red to a silver medal at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with an all-star performance before winning gold at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton and at the 2020 World Juniors.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) January 3, 2021
During the 2021 tournament, Byram scored one goal and four assists along with a tournament best plus-13 rating. He was named a tournament all-star, and one of Canada’s top three players for the tournament, along with forward Dylan Cozens and goaltender Devon Levi.
He also received two player of the game awards for Canada.
Dyck was named an assistant coach for Canada’s World Junior team back in June, part of a coaching staff that also included André Tourigny, Mitch Love and Tyler Dietrich.
Byram and Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens were named co-captains of Canada’s U-20 squad after former Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach, Canada’s original captain, left the tournament due to injury.
– with files from Jason La Rose, Hockey Canada