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Taking Care of His Options

By Scott Taylor

Photos by Bruce Fedyck

Evan Herman of the RHA Nationals Prep Midgets has some decisions to make. However, in Herman’s case, could a 16-year-old hockey player have too many options?

Taking Care of His Options

The fact is, the 5-foot-9, 155-pound lefthanded-shooting forward from The Pas, has so many potential decisions to make that simply arriving at a conclusion could take up all his spare time.

In 2017, Herman was selected in the third round (64thoverall) of the WHL Bantam Draft by the Prince Albert Raiders, currently the No. 1-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League. That same year he was selected in the first round (ninth overall) in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League draft by his hometown OCN Blizzard. He is also on the protected list of the United States Hockey League’s Fargo Force and while he has been contacted by a number of NCAA Division 1 schools, including the University of Maine, Herman is destined for the Western Hockey League. 

After all, he’s already played seven games with the Blizzard and three with the Raiders this season. 

“It’s good to have decisions but there’s a lot on your mind,” he admitted. “It makes those decisions tough, but yeah, it’s always good to be in a position to have those decisions to make.

“Obviously all these situations give you something to think about, but you have to set it aside and just play. If you think about it all when you’re playing it just affects how you play. So, putting it aside helps me continue to play hard and be the best I can be.”

This season, his third in the RHA Nationals program, Herman has been outstanding. He finished the season with 13 goals and 26 points in 30 games with the Midget Prep Nationals and had five goals and seven points in seven games with the Blizzard.

Scouts have noticed and now, after a terrific performance at the SJHL/MJHL Showcase in Regina, Herman is getting noticed.

For his head coach, Rob Smith, this is an exciting and yet, confusing time.

“He’s got options and that’s what you want,” said Smith. “He just came back from the MJHL/SJHL Showcase with OCN where he played very well. Prince Albert would like to sign him and that’s the No. 1 team in the CHL. He’s on the Fargo Force’s list and has U.S. looking very closely him. He has a lot of tough decisions to make. 

“Some players know what they want right away,” added Smith. “Some players need more time to figure things out. Both routes provide good development opportunities.  The kids and families just need to figure out which one best fits them. Our program provides the environment for committed kids in both school and hockey to better themselves.

“We are neutral in terms of which direction any kid goes from our program. Both paths develop players. We want our families to be informed and that’s the most important thing. This way they can make the best decision for themselves.”

Herman started skating when he was two and started playing organized hockey in The Pas. Influenced by his older brother, who was a good hockey player, Herman fell in love with the game at a very early age.

“My brother was a hockey player and I always wanted to be like him,” Evan said. “I just followed him around and I developed a love for the game and just kept playing.”

He was a star with the Central Plains Capitals AAA Provincial Bantams before joining RHA in 2016 as a 14-year-old. He’s thrilled with his decision to play at The Rink.

“I’ve definitely improved here,” he said. “It’s a top-notch program that has helped me get better and put me in the position I am now.

“There is top-notch coaching here, that’s for sure, and all the off-ice training has helped – that’s something I never did before I came here. But it’s also the amount of ice-time we get. We’re on the ice with the coaches every day and having that opportunity has definitely made me a better player.” 

He’s a player that Smith loves to have in the lineup every weekend. In a loop as good as the Canadian Sport Schools Hockey League, Herman’s presence helps make the Nationals a formidable opponent.

“He brings speed, work ethic, grit and tenacity,” said Smith. “He has an ability to put points on the board. He has tenacity and grit but he’s also very offensive-minded.”

But he does have to deal with a number of distractions.

“There is no easy answer,” he conceded. “You have to do your homework and weigh out the options. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m just trying to consider all my options and then make the right decision in order to pursue my hockey career. I don’t have a perfect scenario yet. I just have to keep playing hard and keep doing what I’m doing.”

Covered his first junior hockey game for the Sarnia Observer in 1968. Covered his first Jets game for the Winnipeg Free Press in 1980. Still thinks hockey is the bees knees.

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