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Photo credit: Garrett James Photography
Hockey has always been at the centre of things for the Milburn family from Kamloops, B.C.
Older brother Connor played for the Thompson Blazers U18 program before joining the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL and eventually heading off to Lake Superior State University to play NCAA Division I hockey. Now it’s his younger brothers’ turn, middle child Reagan and youngest brother Brady followed the same path, going through the Blazers organization before arriving in the BCHL, Reagan with the Vernon Vipers and Brady with Chilliwack.
For Reagan, he got his start playing U18 as an underage call-up for the Blazers when his older brother and cousin were both on the team. That gave him the experience needed to make the team next year and he eventually led the team in scoring his second season.
The way he sees it, being part of a hockey-obsessed family gave him an edge over some of his peers growing up.
“We were always pretty competitive with each other,” said Reagan. “We kind of just pushed each other. We were always going to each other’s games and watching each other play. I think that helped us all out on the ice, because we were just watching hockey all the time.”
After his monster second season with the Blazers, where he put up 51 points in 38 games, he was ready to make the jump to the BCHL. Although still following a similar path to his older brother, Reagan diverted slightly when he joined the Vipers.
“I got to play a few games for [Vernon] when I was 16 as an affiliate and I was with them for the playoffs that year as well,” he said. “I really enjoyed it. They treated me really well. I have a good relationship with [head coach] Jason McKee. He wanted me to come play there when I was 17 and I just remembered the guys that were there before me who treated me really well. I really liked the vibe of the team.”
Things have gone quite well for him since making the jump to junior hockey. Despite playing under unique circumstances in the pod season for his rookie year, he still managed to produce seven goals and four assists over 17 contests.
Fast forward another two years and Milburn is tied for the Vipers lead in scoring with 45 points with just two games to go and also tops the team in assists with 28.
His offensive production has been a key part of Vernon’s recent success, having won five straight games to put themselves right in the middle of a tight race for playoff positioning in the Interior Conference. The team has 58 points on the year and is tied with the Prince George Spruce Kings and West Kelowna Warriors for fourth place and home-ice advantage in the first round. The three through seven seeds in the conference are all separated by just three points.
While the Vipers prepare for next weekend’s games which will determine their playoff positioning, Milburn’s focus rightly remains on the rest of the BCHL schedule. But, he can be forgiven if he takes a moment or two to think ahead to his career beyond the BCHL.
With older brother Connor just finished his freshman season at Lake Superior State, Reagan and Brady have both committed to play their NCAA Division I hockey at the same school and are hoping to all play together at some point in the near future.
“I think it’s really exciting,” said Reagan. “That was the main factor in my decision to go there, as well as my younger brother’s. It shows how close our family is and how loyal we are. I know [Brady] had some other offers from different schools, but he wanted to come play with us. We realized this will be our last time all living together and playing hockey, so we’re going to definitely try to make some great memories when we all get there.”