Myles Powell, a recent Finance graduate and hockey player for the RIT Tigers, recently signed to play for the Rochester Americans in the upcoming hockey season. His success can be traced to the many years he has played hockey — all the way back from his high school days on Vancouver Island, to his years in the Polisseni. Though not alone in his accomplishments, the making of Myles Powell is a tell-tale story of how a young boy from British Columbia can travel half the continent and achieve his dreams with a little bit of luck and determination.

Hockey in British Columbia

Before Myles Powell studied Finance at RIT and played Division I Hockey for the Tigers, he was an 18-year-old hockey player in British Columbia. His then-coach of the Victoria Grizzlies, Bill Bestwick, saw potential in him and invited the associate head coach for the RIT Tigers, Brian Hills, to scout him out.

At first, Hills wasn’t too impressed. He found Powell to be incredibly lean — not the muscular build he was looking for in Division I hockey.

“[Powell] was pretty scrawny, to be honest,” Hills recalled.

Yet Powell’s unassuming build made his early skating ability that much more impressive. As Hills recalled, it was his skating prowess and competitiveness that kept his eye on Powell. 

“Don’t worry about the size factor,” Bestwick persuaded. “He’s a fiery redheaded guy — plenty of spunk in him. He just needs time.”

“Don’t worry about the size factor,” Bestwick persuaded. “He’s a fiery redheaded guy — plenty of spunk in him. He just needs time.”

A short while off the ice later, Hills met with Powell and offered him a place on the rink with the Tigers. As you might be able to guess, Powell agreed to come study and play at Rochester Institute of Technology after another year of British Columbia hockey.

During the last year of hockey in the BC league, Powell was traded back and forth a few times — eventually winding up in one of the worst teams in the region.

This was both a positive and negative situation, as Powell was then playing below his level but was also given plenty of ice time. For every power-play, penalty field and “last minute of play in the period,” he stepped forward whenever his team needed a game-saving player.

RIT Bound

Just before Powell came to RIT, men's hockey Head Coach Wayne Wilson made the trip to British Columbia to see him play. By then, Powell was playing all around the rink, trying his best to help his team out of a loss.

Wilson saw the diamond in the rough and knew that Powell could be made into something great if given the right team and training.

So, a short while later, Powell was studying Finance as a freshman at RIT while refining his skills with the hockey team. By his junior year, he was both a captain and a commonly shouted name among the corner crew — his ferocity frequently inspiring his teammates to big goals.

“His energy playing would encourage other guys to play harder and faster like him,” Hills recounted. 

It was his level of competitiveness that helped the Tigers win some close games.

“Powell scored big goals,” Wilson recalled. 

By the end of his stay at RIT, Powell had played in 149 games, scoring 45 goals and assisting in 60 others. It wasn’t long until the Buffalo Sabres signed him to their American Hockey League (AHL) counterpart, the Rochester Americans, for this upcoming season.

Powell and four others who recently graduated will be playing professionally in the upcoming season.The others are Matt Abt who was also signed to the American League, Brady and Chase Norrish who both went to the East Coast League and Liam Kerins who is currently playing in the Pro Hockey League.

"[They are all] fighting for ice time ... Trying to fulfill [the] dream now,” Wilson said. 

We Will Build You

There still is the question of what made Myles Powell and his teammates so successful. What made a young high school senior from British Columbia score goal after goal and win game after game?

“The difference in players’ [ability] at our level is really minimal,” Wilson pointed out. “It’s the ones that really apply themselves and believe in themselves [that make it].”

For the Tigers, applying themselves translates into spending hour after hour in the weight room and practicing on the ice Monday through Thursday. Each week of training averages 12 to 14 hours – not including games on Friday and Saturday.

With close to 20 hours per week (games included), playing hockey is equivalent to a part-time job.

 “Division I Hockey is a lot of work; you’ve given up all your weekends all school year ... and once the season is over, you get one week off,” Wilson said. 

“Division I Hockey is a lot of work; you’ve given up all your weekends all school year ... and once the season is over, you get one week off.”

After that one free week, the off-season begins, where weight training becomes king, as the players focus on building their muscles.

“Most of the strength development is done in the off-season,” said Hills. 

All of their training is also monitored. While practicing or lifting, the hockey players wear heartrate monitors so that the coaching staff can evaluate the difficulty and overall efficacy of their workout. While sleeping, Fitbits are used to measure the quality of their sleep.

Before and after practice, the players also report on their weight, fatigue and muscle soreness — anything that can be monitored, the coaching staff will collect to ensure the practices are as personal and effective as possible.

All these factors result in building a stronger and better hockey team year after year.

“It’s getting more technical than it’s ever been ... [We’re] trying to take advantage of technology [so that] they can improve themselves,” Wilson explained. 

Beyond the Polisseni

“About three quarters of [our players] get signed," estimated Wilson. "It’s the most economically profitable job right out of college.”

With so many Tigers getting to play professional hockey after graduation, training in the Polisseni center isn’t the only way they’ve applied themselves. Many players spend their summer in a National Hockey League (NHL) camp, where recruiters are not only frequent but also fervently scoping out their next player.

“Myles had a really good camp. He went to the Buffalo Sabre Prospect Camp [where] he had three goals in the two games that he played,” Wilson said. 

So overall, how did Myles Powell and his teammates get signed? By believing in themselves, training day in and day out, being professional both on and off the ice and putting in the extra mile whenever possible, helped with their success.

Wilson likens being a successful hockey player to that of being a student.

 “If you want to be an accountant, you got to pay attention in class to get better; do your homework and all the extra stuff to get the best possible grade and job [you can get],” he said.