OTTAWA -- Growing up in Herring Cove, Nova Scotia, a fishing community on the Atlantic Ocean, Shane Bowers was an Ottawa Senators fan.
It took a journey that crisscrossed North America from the rocky seacoast to America's heartland, but now the 18-year-old center prospect, whose bedroom was decorated with Senators logos, finds himself wearing the jersey of his favorite NHL team.
Bowers was selected by Ottawa with the 28th pick of the 2017 NHL Draft and attended the Senators development camp at Canadian Tire Centre, a building he visited as a kid on a trip to Canada's capital.
Bowers used the word "surreal" to describe working out and getting dressed at Canadian Tire Centre, and "it hasn't really sunk in yet that I just finished a camp with my childhood favorite team."
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From Herring Cove, a Halifax suburb with a population of 2,700, Bowers decided to pursue his hockey career in the United States Hockey League.
He was a first-round pick (No. 4) by Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, wanted to keep his options open, including attending college. With that in mind, he traveled to Iowa to play for the Waterloo of the USHL.
"I was able to buy some time and I thought the college route would really fit me as a player and as a person," said Bowers, who will attend Boston University in the fall. "I'm happy with the decision.
"I thought it was the best option for me, the best route for my development … and don't regret any of the decisions I made. I'm happy that it worked out."
Bowers caught the eyes of Senators scouts with his strong two-way game, and had 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists) for Waterloo last season.
"He does so many things well," Senators chief amateur scout Trent Mann said. "That's the part you like about the game. He takes key faceoffs at both ends of the rink. He competes in those hard areas. He can shoot the puck. He can make plays. He backchecks hard. It's the constant compete and wanting to win the puck battles. That's always the part you leave the game thinking, 'That kid, every shift, every shift he brings that.' "
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Said Bowers: "I think I'm a complete two-way forward. "Every night I'm going to compete. You know what you're going to get, someone that can play in all situations and be a real contributor to the team."
Bowers is 6-foot-1 and 178 pounds, so building up his weight and strength will be an immediate goal.
"You can't ignore his size and the first thing he said was, 'I can't wait to get started to fill out a little more,'" Mann said. "That was one of the first things he said when he got down to the table. He knows he has the ability to get bigger and stronger, and we'll see where it goes from there.
"Once his physical strength improves, that will help him get to the next level. On the offensive side of the puck, he will have to make some different decisions at times. He likes to pass the puck, almost to a fault, but he scored 20-some goals. Once he gets stronger and he has more confidence in his shot, I think that will be an easy one for him to kind of correct."
Bowers said he knows what he has to do to improve physically; his experience at Senators development camp also was an eye-opener when it comes to his mental approach.
"There's a lot of good hockey players out there, not just in the Sens organization, but all around that want to play in the NHL," he told the Senators website. "There's a small pool that actually gets to do that. That takes a lot of hard work and determination. For me, the basic takeaway is someone is always out there working harder than you, and you've just got to match that and got to want it every day."