Nanaimo Clippers forward Tyler Williams was an offensive force in his first BCHL season. The 19-year-old led the team in assists and finished just one point back of the Clippers scoring lead. His strong play last season caught the attention of NCAA scouts as Williams has committed to the Lake Superior State University Lakers for the 2020-21 season in his home state of Michigan.
Williams tallied 15 goals in 2018-19 and added a team-high 40 assists for 55 points in his rookie year. After an average start with seven points in his first 14 games, his coming out party happened in a Nov. 2 game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals where he scored a hat trick, including the overtime winning goal, added an assist and was named the game’s first star in a 5-4 win.
Williams sees the Lakers program as the perfect situation to be in to make the next step in his career.
“I love how they play a high-tempo game,” he said in a release from the Clippers. “It fits my style and the coaching staff was great. I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Darren Naylor, his head coach in Nanaimo, was impressed by his first-year forward last season, but is also grateful that he gets to coach him for one more year.
“He took big strides this season to become a dominant player in our league” said Naylor in a release from the Clippers. “We are also excited that Tyler has decided to return to the Clippers. He is a fan favourite and will be a huge piece of our team.”
Before joining the Clippers to start last season, the South Lyon, Mich. native played his youth hockey for Belle Tire in Detroit.
Lake Superior State is an NCAA Division I program located in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The Lakers play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), competing against Alabama-Huntsville, Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska-Fairbanks, Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and Northern Michigan.
Lake Superior State finished third in the WCHA standings in 2018-19, with an in-conference record of 16-10-2. They eventually lost to Minnesota State in the WCHA semifinals.
Notable Lakers alums that went on to play in the NHL include Brian Rolston, who played over 1,000 games and won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 1995, and Doug Weight, who eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau playing for several different teams over a 20-year career.
Last year’s Lake Superior State team featured seven BCHL alums, including Tyler Anderson (Prince George Spruce Kings), Mitchell Oliver (Alberni Valley Bulldogs), Diego Cuglietta (Merritt Centennials), Alexandro Ambrosio (Coquitlam Express), Brayden Gelsinger (Victoria Grizzlies), Bryan Basilico (West Kelowna Warriors) and Gage Torrel (Langley Rivermen).
Williams joins four other BCHL players with commitments to the Lakers, including Coquitlam Express forward Joshua Wildauer (2019-20), Cowichan Valley Capitals forward Niko Esposito-Selivanov (2019-20) and Prince George Spruce Kings forwards Spencer DenBeste (2020-21) and Dustin Manz (2019-20).