Josiah Didier is a likeable athlete. How likeable? His Midget Minor coach compared him to former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. On the ice, Didier was a standout defender for the Colorado Thunderbirds and is a recent USHL Entry Draft selection
Didier went to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the second round during Wednesday's portion of the draft. The 6-3, 195-pounder is 17 years old and could make the jump to the United States Hockey League next season.
"He legitimately could make that team," Thunderbirds head coach Angelo Ricci said. "I love this kid. He was our captain, our leader. He's polite, doesn't swear, says 'Yes sir' and 'No sir' - he's just a special young man.
"He's a big kid and he's learning how to slow his feet down, but he thinks the game. His hockey IQ is off the charts. He's one of our top scoring defensemen and has a presence around the net offensively and defensively. The kid has serious NHL potential."
In 85 games with the Midget Minor team, Didier contributed 17 goals and 51 assists and was plus-77 in helping lead the Thunderbirds to the Under-16 Tier 1 National Championship.
While teams from the Western Hockey League - a major juniors outfit - are hot on his trail, Didier wants to play college hockey. He's in contact with Denver, Colorado College and Yale.
"I've visited the two Colorado schools," he said. "They're both close to home, they're great hockey programs and have terrific facilities. But I'd like to visit Yale and any other school that shows interest."
Though his age would dictate he is a member of the Class of 2011, it doesn't always work like that in college hockey. He could sign in 2012 or even later so he has plenty of time to reach a decision.
"I think he really wants to play at Denver and is hoping for an offer," Ricci said. "But I guarantee someone will recognize his talent and give him an opportunity."
Didier can attend tryout camp June 3-5 in an attempt to make the RoughRiders next year.
"I can't wait," he said. "It will be fun. I will work as hard as I can and play my game and see where that takes me.
"I consider myself both an offensive and defensive defenseman. I hit when I need to and contribute offensively when it's the right chance to take."