Jermaine Loewen became a first on Saturday. Now he’s looking for seconds.
Loewen, a towering left wing for the Kamloops Blazers, became the first Jamaican-born player chosen in a National Hockey League Draft when the Dallas Stars selected him in the seventh round with the 199th overall pick Saturday.
“I cried when I got the call,” Loewen told Jon Keen, the play-by-play voice for the Western Hockey League Blazers.
If the 20-year-old from Mandeville, Jamaica, defies the odds and cracks the Stars’ roster, he’d become the NHL’s second Jamaican-born player. Graeme Townshend – a forward who played for the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, and Ottawa Senators – was the first.
Townshend’s island heritage and hockey have merged as he’s the head coach of the Jamaican Olympic ice hockey team effort.
“I think about that a lot , it’s like, ‘aw, man, I want to be the second guy,’” Loewen told Canada’s Sportsnet of joining Townshend in hockey history books “I just really want to make that happen.”
Loewen was ranked as the 160th-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. At 6-foot-4, 221-pounds, he was the Blazers’ leading scorer last season with 36 goals and 28 assists in 66 regular season games.
He notched 50 goals and 46 assists in 236 regular season games over four seasons with Kamloops.
Loewen was one of the more remarkable stories of the two-day draft at Dallas’ American Airlines Center.
Adopted from an orphanage in Mandeville, Jamaica, by a white family and relocated to rural Arborg, Manitoba, when he was five, Loewen didn’t lace on a pair of skates until he was six – late by Canadian standards.
He didn’t play his first organized hockey game until he was 10. But that didn’t stop him from getting drafted by the Blazers, a Canadian major junior team, six years later.
For @DallasStars fans… here’s a little more background on the 7th round selection Jermaine Loewen https://t.co/rJs1IHtqz9
— Jon Keen (@JonKeenNLSports) June 23, 2018
“Obviously when you start playing organize hockey at 10 when other kids start at six or seven, you’re way behind,” Townshend told me in 2016. “He’s made up a lot of ground in a very short period of time. That says a lot about his character.”
ISS Hockey, in its 2018 NHL draft scouting report, called Loewen “a raw player” with pro potential.
Congratulations to @blazerhockey forward Jermaine Loewen, selected 199th overall by the @DallasStars! #NHLDraft #GoStars pic.twitter.com/Bcp03So9Yh
— The WHL (@TheWHL) June 23, 2018
“Plays a very impressive game with good on ice smarts, He can be heavy on his feet, but there is no denying his ability to get the job done,” ISS Hockey wrote. “Loewen could turn into a Wayne Simmonds-type player.”
Loewen should be among the players attending the Stars development camp June 25-29 at StarCenter Frisco, the team’s practice facility.
Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey. And download the Color of Hockey podcast from iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play.