Oilers Avalanche series has an East Kootenay connection

Bowen Byram plays for Colorado; Tyson Barrie for Edmonton

Bowen Byram during his WHL days. Cranbrook Townsman photo

Bowen Byram during his WHL days. Cranbrook Townsman photo

ANTHONY DRANSFELD

Local interest in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is certainly heating up. The Edmonton Oilers have a big fan base here in Cranbrook/Kimberley. The Oilers have just knocked off the Calgary Flames, and now face the Colorado Avalanche, the winner going to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Avalanche are also very popular with fans in town due to the efforts of local boy Bowen Byram, who at age 22 is playing excellent hockey on defence. He is easy to spot on the ice wearing the Number 4 of the immortal Bobby Orr.

The whole Colorado team is built on speed, passing and superior skating. Young Byram is no exception. His effortless stride and puck handling is very reminiscent of Cranbrook’s Scott Niedermayer. Bowen and Scottie actually have similar styles. Both are left D Men too. Scott was just a beautiful skater, and Bowen Byram is not far behind Scottie.

Bowen’s Cranbrook Minor Hockey team mates have been trekking up to Edmonton lately to see their buddy play against the Oilers, and go out for dinner after the game. Bowen’s dad Shawn had his own hockey journey, starting in the Western Hockey League with the Regina Pats ( 3 seasons in the Dub ) After an audition with the New York Islanders , Byram Senior signed with Ayr Scotland. Shawn thoroughly enjoyed his time in Great Britain spending 5 seasons.in Ayr. After 16 seasons of pro hockey Shawn called it a day, and moved back to his hometown of Cranbrook B C .

His son Bowen had a much more accelerated trip to the NHL, a first round draft choice from the Vancouver Giants. Young Byram was picked by the Colorado Avalanche in the first Round. Bowen then stepped into the starting lineup almost immediately. Former Kimberley Dynamiter General Manager and Vancouver Giant Scout Rick “ Rocky” Allen called Bowen Byram a “blue chip cannot miss prospect”. Mr. Allen proved very prophetic.

The Byrams are long time residents of Cranbrook going back three generations. Shawn married Stacey Gates, and they have Bowen and his sister Jamie. Stacey’s Dad Randy Gates was a very good hockey player for the Cranbrook Royals back in the day, so Bowen has lots of hockey genes.

The inevitable East Kootenay connection prevails between Edmonton and the Colorado team. Tyson Barrie of the Oilers is a terrific defenceman. His family hails from Kimberley. Grandad Len Senior was a well-respected hockey coach for years, playing his Minor Hockey here in Kimberley. Tyson, by the way, plays hockey the right way, like Bowen. No dirty stuff. I think the boys know each other through the East Kootenays, and Tyson was originally a Colorado Avalanche, Bowen inherited his number 4 .

Safe travels to everyone driving from Cranbrook Kimberley to Edmonton to support Bowen Byram and Tyson Barrie on their Stanley Cup path. Colorado edged Edmonton in the first game held in Denver last night. It was a slugfest. Byram and Barrie both played very well. Hopefully the Stanley cup makes it to Cranbrook or Kimberley this season. We are in good hands with these two fine players.