It was the summer time of 2020 within the midst of the pandemic at a rink within the Chicago suburbs that goalie coach Oliver Freij got here to the belief his star pupil was going to be simply fantastic.
On the finish of a gruelling on-ice session, he carried out a “compete” drill the place the skater goes to the entrance of the web to tip a shot, then tries to jam within the rebound. Freij remembers Tucker Tynan stopping 10 straight shooters earlier than permitting a aim. Tynan moved everywhere in the web, diving for saves, going into the butterfly with out hesitation, attacking the puck and standing his floor. “That fireside by no means left,” Freij stated. “It didn’t look very fairly, however he was dominant.”
In isolation, that’s not an enormous deal. Shake a tree arduous sufficient and goalies who’re tremendous aggressive and athletic are more likely to fall out. However this was solely Tynan’s second time on ice since struggling a laceration so deep that solely the fast work of trainers for the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs and London Knights prevented him from bleeding out proper there on the ice. That session with Freij got here simply six months and two surgical procedures after Tynan had been taken off the ice on a stretcher surrounded by six medical attendants and his Niagara teammates, along with his tools strewn on the different finish of the ice in a pool of blood. It was an inordinately brief time after a member of the native broadcast crew exclaimed in horror, “Oh god, there’s blood in all places on the ice!” It additionally happened six months after medical doctors instructed Tynan he’d most likely by no means play hockey once more.
But right here’s the factor about Tucker Tynan. He’s
actually quiet, however he’s additionally just a little bit cocky and severely cussed. Generally he doesn’t hear so good. He remembers nearly all the things about Dec. 12, 2019, the night time Hunter Skinner of the Knights reduce to the web and slid into him, lacerating Tynan’s proper thigh. A tenth-round long-shot decide of the IceDogs in 2018, Tynan had labored his approach onto the roster and was discovering an actual groove, supplanting the No. 1 goalie and going through extra photographs per sport than every other stopper within the CHL on a reasonably dismal group. He remembers medical individuals telling him his profession was in jeopardy. He additionally remembers not listening to them. “Straight away, the medical doctors and nurses stated, ‘Yeah, we don’t know, likelihood is you received’t play hockey once more,’ ” Tynan stated. “I didn’t assume an excessive amount of into it as a result of they actually didn’t know the severity of the damage and other people aren’t actually saying that with any backing. It may be robust mentally, however I feel it’s simply as vital to maintain your head up, or truly put your head down and simply go to work.”
And that’s precisely what he did. Whether or not his head was up or down, it wasn’t going to be clouded with doubt or concern. After months of inertia, then relearning tips on how to stroll, Tynan began the method of getting stronger. Earlier than the damage, Tynan would squat 375 kilos and do cut up squats with 50-pound dumbbells in every hand. Now he squats 450 kilos and does cut up squats with 80-pound dumbbells.
On the ice, he’s returned because the IceDogs’ undisputed starter, stopping 57 of 60 photographs he confronted in his first two begins of the season to earn OHL goaltender-of-the-week honors. He’s been stable within the web ever since, and he’s within the combine to be certainly one of Workforce USA’s three goalies for the World Junior Championship. Boston College starter Drew Commesso, regardless of a sluggish begin to 2021-22, is seen by most observers
because the doubtless No. 1 goalie for the People, however Tynan is making a robust case to be on the roster. And in case you’ve watched sufficient WJCs, that after a participant will get there, something can occur.
Tynan can also be drawing the curiosity of NHL bird-dogs, with an eye fixed to both signing him as a free agent in some unspecified time in the future this season or taking him within the 2022 draft. One scout stated he was making his first journey into Ontario in early November, and Tynan was one of many gamers he supposed on concentrating on. “You win Stanley Cups with tradition,” the scout stated. “Individuals who cope with adversity and deal properly with adversity, they’re very intriguing to me. They nonetheless should be good. I’ve seen a number of tradition guys who would make nice AHL captains. He’s making me go to see him to be sure that I don’t miss him as a result of his story checks among the packing containers I like checked.”
Had the OHL performed a season in 2020-21, Tynan doubtless wouldn’t have been able to go. That was why the IceDogs went out and received an overage goalie, primarily as a placeholder. That they had a lot religion Tynan would return they didn’t take a single goalie within the 2020 draft, utilizing an 18-year-old they took in 2019 as Tynan’s backup this 12 months.
Going into coaching camp this season, Tynan’s solely different motion – except for figuring out along with his goalie coach in Chicago – got here in practices with the AHL’s Iowa Wild, who picked him up whereas on a street journey within the space and signed him as a 3rd goalie when certainly one of theirs was known as up, and in addition in USA Hockey’s World Junior Summer season Showcase, the place he allowed (gulp) seven targets on 28 photographs in three video games. It was his first sport motion in additional than a year-and-a-half, and it additionally occurred to be in opposition to one of the best younger gamers from his personal nation, together with Finland and Sweden. So we’ll give him a cross there.
By the point the IceDogs’ coaching camp got here round, Tynan was prepared. Coach Billy Burke stated he and goalie coach Jason Barron had been nervous about placing Tynan again within the web, particularly on house ice. They wrestled with whether or not to maintain him out of the top of the rink the place the incident occurred, or beginning him on the street for the primary couple of minutes.
“And he was like, ‘I don’t care. I’m right here and I’m taking part in,’ ” Burke stated. “He’s dealt with it prefer it was a sprained ankle or one thing like that.” Added Tynan’s agent Bryan Mountain: “I introduced it up with him and he was like, ‘I do know individuals need to maintain bringing it up as a result of it was so scary, however I’m achieved with it. You possibly can all maintain speaking about it, however I’m shifting on.’ ”
You at all times surprise how somebody goes to react to a catastrophic damage, notably one which occurred on an innocuous play that always occurs a number of instances in a sport. You wonder if or not he’s going to be extra timid difficult shooters, you maintain your breath the primary couple of instances you see an opposing ahead reduce arduous to the web. You surprise how somebody who got here that near catastrophe might simply stand in there as if nothing occurred. However then you definitely discuss to Tucker Tynan and people round him and also you notice that his unflappability is real. “I’ve received higher tools now,” he stated. “You possibly can’t be scared. You play by way of it. It’s hockey, proper? It’s a bodily sport, even for a goalie. Individuals don’t perceive that more often than not.”
Maybe it has one thing to do with the invincibility that comes with being younger and possibly just a little unaware. However Tynan isn’t any stranger to placing his head down and attending to work. It’s what he’s achieved all through his profession, all through his life. Tynan is the son of a single mother. His father, a former high-school hockey participant who based a development firm and performed drums in a rock band, died of a coronary heart assault when Tynan was simply eight months outdated.
So when one thing as devastating as a critical damage happens, and it ends in going unchosen in successive NHL drafts, Tynan begins sporting kneepads and Kevlar underwear beneath his goalie pads and goes again to work. “He’s by no means felt sorry for himself,” Burke stated. “He’s simply annoyed by this. He’s annoyed by not being drafted. In his thoughts, he feels he’s one of the best goalie within the OHL, and he will get annoyed that he doesn’t get the popularity of among the different nice goalies in our league. It’s motivation, it’s gasoline for him and it’s all constructive. It’s not a distraction.”
Becoming a member of the Wild, even when it was as a 3rd follow goalie who didn’t costume for a sport, lifted Tynan’s spirits and strengthened his perception that he belongs with gamers at that stage. A berth on the U.S. world-junior group, a dominant season and an extended playoff run would go a great distance towards stopping Tynan from going unselected in his third NHL draft. He performs a place the place the trail to the NHL, if it ever will get there, is never linear.
Goalies have been identified to play tons of of video games within the minors, typically having to work up from the ECHL, earlier than having any success on the NHL stage. So there’s nonetheless an extended street forward. The damage was a significant pothole in that street, one which has change into extra of an annoyance for him than something. Tynan is upset, not at Skinner for sliding into him and unintentionally slicing his leg, not even on the randomness of it. Most of all, he’s sad with the circumstances it created and the way he has watched different goalies cross him by.
“Neglect in regards to the individuals I prepare with in the summertime and that I do know I’ve outperformed and have the next ability stage,” Tynan stated. “When it occurred, I used to be 17 and a youthful man within the league. While you take a look at guys I used to be outperforming, not solely within the OHL, however within the WHL and QMJHL, a number of these guys are within the AHL and a few are even within the NHL. Individuals can say no matter they need about the place I might be if I didn’t get injured, however actually I most likely would have gotten drafted and it most likely would have been a very completely different previous couple of years. However you possibly can’t do something about that.”
In his first 5 video games with the IceDogs, Tynan received 4 of them. In his second sport of the season, he stopped 32 of 34 photographs, together with two extra time breakaways, earlier than profitable the sport in a shootout. He was named first star that night time. Due to his damage and the cancelled season as a result of pandemic, that gave him simply 28 video games of major-junior hockey expertise.
It’s clearly an enormous 12 months for him. Tynan is figuring out as arduous as ever, even more durable. These closest to him are amazed, however not terribly shocked. The best way he attacked his rehab with the aim of getting again into the web within the face of some individuals telling him he may need hassle even working once more doesn’t come as a shock to individuals like Oliver Freij, Billy Burke and Bryan Mountain.
It’s one factor to have the need to return. It’s fairly one other to have the ability to resummon that means after hardly taking part in for nearly two years and return to being an elite participant in your age group. When you concentrate on it, Tynan missed out on an unlimited period of time at a vital interval in his growth.
However in that sense, his cohorts within the OHL have missed nearly as a lot time, which can have levelled the taking part in subject just a little bit. As soon as they noticed his willpower, the IceDogs made the choice to stay with him and see this by way of, and it’s clear that has paid off for each them and Tynan.
“He’s unbelievably resilient and extremely spectacular,” Burke stated. “Of all of the goalies I’ve seen in my brief profession, I don’t assume we’ve ever had a big-game goalie like Tucker Tynan. When he’s within the web for us, you simply have that confidence that nothing goes to beat him. It doesn’t matter what occurs, we at all times have an opportunity to drag one out.”
This text initially appeared in The Hockey Information’ Goalie Concern.