Just like National Hockey Leaguers Brock Boeser, Zach Parise, and T.J. Oshie started their hockey careers, Jacob Bernard-Docker is committed to play for the University of North Dakota next season.
And the 17-year-old right-shot defenceman from Canmore would be happy to graduate from the NCAA school, appeasing his parents Thomas and Rolanda who are real estate appraisers in the Bow Valley.
But, then again, if his time were to be cut short because of other opportunities…
It could very well happen as Bernard-Docker — who played the last two seasons for the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League — is expected to be a highly touted draft pick at the 2018 NHL draft this weekend.
Based on his rankings, he could potentially hear his name hollered on Friday in the first round. International Scouting Services has him pegged at 25th overall while the final edition of the NHL’s Central Scouting rankings has him at No. 33 among North American prospects.
Twenty-six of 31 teams interviewed him at the NHL Combine.
NHL scouts were always in the stands at the Pason Centennial Arena in Okotoks. Heck, anywhere the Oilers went, there were bird-dogs in the stands.
“There’s a huge interest in Jacob’s ability,” said Oilers general manager Brad Robson. “The reason why is because of his skating. He’s got really good acceleration and agility, forwards and backwards. He’s a very smart hockey player and has a very high hockey I.Q. He reads the play, sees the ice before plays are even happening. His anticipation — he knows where the play is going and where the flow is going. Going to the University of North Dakota will only elevate his game and it intrigues many teams. He’s going to a very good school.
“I don’t even know if he’ll finish his four years, just because of the type of hockey players he is — he’ll be a two or three year student and then play pro hockey.”
And it wasn’t just Bernard-Docker who created a buzz.