As usual, rookie goaltender Tucker Tynan maintained a perfect focus on the task at hand. Today it was a media session with an equally-committed team correspondent. Suddenly keeping a straight face and suppressing laughter became impossible tasks, as some practical joking teammates queued up, pretending to be media types eager to interview the normally stoic netminder.
If the young backstop’s stellar play continues, he may have the last laugh, as fans, reporters, scouts, and executives will be lining up to talk with Niagara’s latest draft-eligible prospect.
Even now, Tynan has reason to be in good spirits. The soft-spoken 17-year-old owns a 10-8-3 record, along with a 3.74 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. Those stats place him sixth and first respectively among rookie netminders. He’s 27th and third among all Ontario Hockey League goaltenders.
The calm keeper maintains these enviable numbers, despite being routinely peppered with shots in-game action. No goalie in the Ontario Hockey League has seen more rubber this season. On average, Tynan faces 39 shots in a normal game, seven above the league average. It is no secret that the IceDogs carry several young defenders, who are still learning the fine art of shot suppression, but Tynan is happy to do the extra work needed to bail the team out when required. “This league is so offensive every game it’s a chance to showcase,” said Tynan.
Although, not a particularly big goalie. He stands 6-foot-1 and weighs just 159 pounds, yet his Ontario Hockey League career is off to more than an impressive start, due in part to his athleticism, competitive spirit, and technique. Thus far, his strengths have more than made up for his lack of size. Which have Niagara IceDogs’ general manager Joey Burke and goalie coach Bob Janosz in unions with their praise for the young netminder.
“He has a lot of the intangibles,” said Janosz. “Being mentally tough, competitive. He hates getting scored on in games and practices. He wants to win all the time, his quickness side-to-side is really at an elite level; it’s something special. He makes a lot of key saves at big times early and late in games to keep the team in the game or at times, to seal off a win.”
“That’s exactly what it is,” said Burke of Tynan’s repose. Although occasionally overcome with laughter, staying composed is one of the Chicago, Illinois native’s greatest attributes. “The intangibles that you see: the quickness and the agility. But what’s impressed me the most, at our level, is how he can shake things off, nothing bothers him. That’s what the elite goalies have. Nothing bothers them, nothing throws them off their game.”
“Coming into camp this year, I had extremely high hopes that he would grab the job and run with it. I had the highest expectations of anyone, “Burke added, “and he’s even exceeding those.”
As attested, the organization has leaned on the tranquil Tynan, who continues to make the most of the opportunities, appearing in 22 of Niagara’s 29 games.
What we do know is, the rookie stopper has added an element of stability as Niagara seeks a post-season berth in an always competitive OHL Central Division.