Thunderbirds standout, Denver native Valis makes plans for future, signs with WHL’s Pats
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Borya Valis was born in Los Angeles but has developed his hockey skills in Colorado with the Littleton Hawks and Colorado Thunderbirds.
Last February, the 2004 birth year was listed by the WHL’s Regina Pats and this past week, signed with Regina for the 2021-22 season.
“Regina saw me at the end of 2019 playing in a couple tournaments and liked me and put me on their protected list,” said Valis, a forward from Denver. “The Regina Pats is a great organization, and they gave me a huge opportunity to begin a new chapter. Of course, it’s hard to leave family, but I can’t wait to play for the Pats and further my career.”
Deciding between Major Junior hockey and the NCAA route wasn’t a tough decision at all, according to Valis.
“I have always wanted to play in the Canadian Hockey League and in the NCAA, for me it would have been hard to do school and hockey at once and take a good major, so I chose the CHL,” Valis said.
“We’ve seen Borya play multiple times this season and have been happy with the progress he’s shown, particularly with his ability to score,” said Pats VP of hockey operations and GM John Paddock. “We look forward to seeing him in Regina, as he continues to advance his hockey career.”
During the 2019-20 season, the 6-foot forward played with the Thunderbirds’ 15U program, registering 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 20 games.
By signing in the WHL, Valis gains access to two years of scholarship funds and will also receive additional scholarship funding for every year played in the league. During the 2019-20 academic year, a total of 402 WHL graduates took advantage of the program.
When asked how he got his start in the game, Valis told a rather unique story.
“Growing up, I had issues with my feet,” said Valis. “I always walked on my tippy toes, so the doctors said I should get surgery to fix it. My parents refused and put me in hockey, which fixed all the problems with my feet. It was very hard at the beginning, but then as time went on, I fell in love with the sport and all I wanted to do was play hockey.”
As a Mite in Colorado, Valis said Sergei Bautin was an influential coach, “the biggest impact in my hockey career,” he said, and then when he moved to LHA, Brian TenEyck was a coach that pushed Valis to see his full potential.
Since he was 11, Valis has been with the Thunderbirds and called coach Milan Hejduk someone who has played a “huge role” in his development.
“I really want to thank the Colorado Thunderbirds for everything and my current coaches David Clarkson, Ken Klee, and John Mitchell,” Valis said.
Down the road, Valis said his goals are very reachable.
“I want to play hockey and go as far as I can,” said Valis. “After that, I want to go to a university and take a medical major.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Jan. 12, 2021)