Team rosters for the 2020-21 season are starting to shape up as the BCHL announced its extended training camp exhibition schedule. As of right now, the Rivermen are sitting with 10 rookies on their active roster, six forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie.
Out of these 10 rookies, two of them are 16-year-olds. Yes, you read that right, two 16-year-olds on the roster. Last season the Rivermen only went with one 16-year-old player in Chase Sandhu, however, this season will look a little different. Cameron Johnson and Ronin Sharma are both 2004-born forwards that are currently listed on the Rivermen active roster.
Some teams will go the entire season without having a 16-year old dress in a game so it is always surprising when you see a team have two on their roster.
Sharma suited up for the Delta Academy Elite E15s in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League last season, scoring 17 goals and chipping in with 26 assists over 36 games. Prior to playing for the Elite E15s, Sharma played the 2018-19 season with the Delta Academy Bantam Prep team scoring 14 goals and adding 18 assists in 30 games.
A big-bodied forward, he is listed at 6’3″ and 178 pounds. He also still needs time to grow into his body as he doesn’t actually turn 16 until early October.
The young forward sounds ready to get the season started. “It was very exciting news when I heard Bobby wanted to sign me. I know it’s going to be a big jump and I feel that after this summer of all the hard work I have put in has worked and made me stronger and faster. I feel I am ready to play in this league and will compete in every chance I am given.”
Sharma also has a bit of familiarity with the Rivermen as he was able to practice with the team last season. “I was around the team last year and being at their practices really showed me how the team was and how amazing the organization and coaches are. It’s been a great start and I’m excited to get the games going soon.”
Another day, another lacrosse style goal…
— CSSHL (@CSSHL) January 19, 2020
Johnson can be described as a leader on and off the ice. He played last season with St. George’s School Elite 15s where he led the team in scoring with 29 goals and 49 assists in 33 games. The product of Vancouver finished the season winning the CSSHL E15 awards for the most assists in a season with 49 and the award for the most points during the season with 78.
The skilled forward also played a season of bantam varsity and a season of bantam prep with St. George’s School where he scored 48 goals and added 65 assists in 60 games over two seasons. Those stats helped him get drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in the fourth round of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.
If you go off of Johnson’s stats over the last few years, he has the potential to put up big numbers, however, the jump to the BCHL could be a bit of a learning curve. Either way, coach Bobby Henderson wouldn’t have taken a chance on a 16-year-old if he didn’t see big potential in the player.
What to expect
Realistically you can’t expect two 16-year-old players to come into an organization and become impact players right out of the gate. They will need to come and compete each night to earn the trust of their coaches.
They’ll do that by doing the little things right, trusting the process, playing smart defensively, which will lead to more ice time and the potentially more opportunities to put the puck in the net. Looking at it from a statistical point of view both players shouldn’t have any issues adjusting to the BCHL level.