By Steve Hubrecht
A local teenager with top-notch puck stopping skills signed a scholarship and development agreement with a Western Hockey League team (Victoria Royals) last week.
It’s the latest step in Invermere-raised Ryan Tamelin’s goalkeeping career, and could even see the 17 year old playing a few major junior hockey games later this season.
The deal was announced on Wednesday, Nov. 22, and comes as Ryan has a standout season with the under 18 (U18) Okanagan Hockey Academy (OHA)’s prep team, which is based in Penticton and plays in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL).
In fact, Ryan was named CSSHL player of the month for October. In six games, he has a 1.00 goals against average (GAA) and .961 save percentage, while getting two shutouts. The OHA U18 team has won every game that Ryan has played.
“He’s pretty excited (about the Royals deal),” said Ryan’s dad Darren last week. “He’s been working really hard during the last year and a half.”
Last year Ryan played with the OHA’s U17 prep team. He played 19 games, won 12 and had a 2.35 GAA and .928 save percentage, with two shutouts.
“He was among the top four or five goaltenders in his league last year, and this year he’s on track to be the best,” said Darren. “He’s not just working hard on the rink but at school too, and we’re really proud of him.”
Ryan may play a few games for the Royals this year, and he will be at the Royals camp at the start of next season.
“It (the camp) can be pretty ruthless. Every game you need to perform, or they could drop you and move on to the next guy. So there’s a lot of pressure for sure,” explained Darren. “But for now, we just want to let him enjoy this moment.”
“They (the Royals) called me up and told me they were interested. They are having a bit of goalie trouble this year, so they wanted to sign me,” Ryan told the Pioneer. “With me so tall, there’s interest.”
Ryan is six feet and eight inches tall, and 201 pounds — a commanding presence in net.
Like many kids growing up in the Columbia Valley and across Canada, Ryan has loved hockey since he was young. Why did he choose to be a netminder?
“I thought the goalie gear was really cool,” he explained.
Ryan was originally selected by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft. He was later released by the Chiefs, which freed him up to sign with the Royals.