Cranbrook’s Bowen Byram representing Canada at U18 World Championships

Cranbrook’s Bowen Byram representing Canada at U18 World Championships

Local player in Russia for international tournament, one of only three underage players on roster

A huge year for Bowen Byram reached an even higher stage on Thursday, as he suited up for Team Canada at the IIHF U18 World Championships in Magnitogorsk, Russia.

Facing off against the United States, Canada beat their arch-rivals 6-4 in a tight affair. Byram, a 16-year-old defenceman from Cranbrook, who plays for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, was one of only three 2001-born players to crack Canada’s roster.

The majority of the tournament is made up of 2000-born prospects who will be eligible for this summer’s NHL Entry Draft. Kootenay Ice rookie Peyton Krebs also made the pre-tournament camp, but was released just prior to Thursday’s game.

While Byram didn’t get on the scoresheet in the tournament’s opener, he had an assist in two pre-tournament games prior to the official event’s commencement. He previously represented Team Canada Red at the 2017 U-17 Hockey Challenge in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, where he had five points in six games en route to a silver medal.

In 60 games with the Giants this season, Byram had 27 points and made a tremendous impact in the WHL playoffs, putting up seven points in seven games, before being eliminated by the Victoria Royals in the first round.

In Thursday’s win, the Canadians were led by Halifax Mooseheads forward Raphael Lavoie who had two goals including the game-winner. Lavoie will not be draft eligible until 2019. Alexis Lafreniere, who will not be eligible until 2020, opened the scoring for his team with a highlight-reel goal.

Canada’s next game will be against Belarus on Friday, before playing Switzerland on Sunday and Sweden next Tuesday. The tournament will wrap up on April 29 with the gold medal game. A Canadian squad has not won a medal since 2015 and haven’t been gold-medalists since 2013.

NOTE: Kootenay Ice forward Gilian Kohler is representing Switzerland at the tournament. Kohler had 19 points in 55 games in his rookie season with the Cranbrook club.