Eagles defenceman joins elite all-star list
What do Ryan Kesler, Dion Phaneuf, Patrick Kane, Kyle Turris, Evander Kane and Jarret Tyszka all have in common?
All six earned all-star awards at the prestigious Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament.
This year marked the 46th year of the tournament.
The first five on that list have also gone on to make names for themselves in the National Hockey League, and there is no doubt Tyszka would love to join them one day down the road.
But for now, he is a second-year bantam player for the Langley Eagles.
The 14-year-old was named a first team all-star and the tournament’s top defenceman last week after helping the Eagles win the tier 1 B Division title at the annual elite tournament.
It ran from Jan. 1 to Jan. 5.
With a dozen teams at the tournament — and roughly six blue-liners per roster — that means Tyszka beat out 71 other players for the award.
Included among the 12 teams — which featured two Alberta squads and one from Alaska — where a pair of the province’s top-ranked teams from the Okanagan Hockey Academy and the Pursuit of Excellence hockey program.
“That is a pretty good feat for him to get defenceman of the tournament,” said Langley bantam A1 coach Danny Franco.
“This was a great accomplishment for him. With so many defencemen to choose from, I am just thrilled he got it.
“He had a great weekend, so it was well deserved.”
Tyszka admits he did not expect to get the award.
“I was really surprised because the team got fifth, so I didn’t think I would get it,” he said, adding that the award means a lot.
Tyszka led the team in scoring in the round robin with a goal and five assists, but the Eagles were just 1-2. The blue-liner did manage to get points on six of the team’s 13 goals.
Playing in the quarter-finals, they lost 2-0 to the Kamloops Jardine Blazers, relegating Langley to the B side of the draw.
The team did rebound to knock off the Kelowna AAA Rockets 3-2 and then doubled up the Airdrie Xtreme 8-4 to win the B title.
Tyszka said his team did not play well in the round robin, but were much better in the playoff round.
Franco said the award is sure to attract some more attention to Tyszka, who is draft eligible this season for the annual Western Hockey League bantam draft.
For his part, Tyszka — who turns 15 in March — said he just tries to block out any thoughts on the draft.
“I try not to think about that, just go out and try my hardest,” he said, although he added it is in the back of his mind.
Tyszka, who serves as an assistant captain for the bantam Eagles, is also attending the hockey academy at Yale’s Abbotsford Secondary.
It is his first year at the school and he is enjoying the program.
“You get to play hockey while you are there and it lets you get better,” he said.
Tyszka becomes the fourth player from the Langley Minor Hockey Association to earn all-star honours at the tournament. He joins goaltender Ryan Stene (first team 1992) and forwards Jeremy Jackson (first team 1997) and Greg Ross (second team 2004).