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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, August 18, 2011
Hynes pounds the puck as he looks to get noticed
By Jordan J. Michael
GUILDERLAND Tyler Hynes doesn’t enjoy manual labor. He’d rather work himself to death on the ice.
Summer isn’t prime time for hockey, but serious players like Hynes use July and August to sell their talents to junior and college teams that they hope to play for in the near future. It’s fierce competition and a lot of work.
“This sport comes with so many different aspects,” said Hynes, 17, of Guilderland. He’s been recruited by a few Division I schools, but declined to name them. “It takes years of practice with the right coaches,” he said. “The aggressive and competitive atmosphere is in your face.”
This week, Hynes is in Boston for a hockey showcase for the second time in three weeks. In late July, he played 13 games in six days for a New York/Connecticut team during the 37th annual Hockey Night in Boston. Now, it’s the Beantown Classic, a showcase of players from seven teams.
“I make sure to do it enough to get noticed,” Hynes said of the showcases, which invite top players from around the country, and even the world. “It shows consistency. I play for the thrill of playing in college,” he said.
Hynes, who transferred from Guilderland High School to Albany Academy last year, finished second in Hockey Night scoring with seven goals and seven assists. He performed well enough to be moved up to the Elite Division for a couple of games. And he scored the only goal in a contest against a select team from Russia.
For his efforts, Hynes received a trophy for “Biggest Surprise.” It’s meant for a player who overachieves. Hynes scored a hat trick in the first game.
“I’m really happy that I played well,” said Hynes. “You don’t really know any of the other players, so it’s way less team oriented than normal. Some of the kids were cocky because everyone is there to do their own thing and get noticed.”
Hockey Night in Boston was a great boost for Hynes’s hockey career, but he said he was dead by the time it was over. He injured his shoulder on his last shift in the last game.
“It’s really fun, but the amount of playing time is brutal,” Hynes said. “It teaches you how to play when you’re totally gassed. Everyone is falling on each other.”
Hynes said he couldn’t eat enough or drink enough fluids to stay ahead of the relentless pace. His hockey gear was soaked with sweat and he was getting back to his hotel room at 9 p.m. every night, only to wake up early to do it all over again.
“I didn’t get to explore the city,” said Hynes of his week in Boston. “I thought I would have time, but I had none. I was sleeping whenever I wasn’t playing.”
An only child, Hynes recounted his steps through the hockey system. He first skated on ice at age 3. He didn’t like it in the beginning, but needed to skate because he was an overweight kid.
“This is weird, but I used to be obsessed with markers; all different kinds,” Hynes said. “My parents would bribe me into skating with markers. The more skating I did, the more markers I could use to color.”
Somewhere between age 3 and 7, Hynes started to really enjoy playing hockey. At 7, he joined a House League in Bethlehem and moved to a Mite Travel League after that.
“I took all the steps,” said Hynes. “I was playing pretty well.”
Not trying to sound crass, Hynes said that there were no great teams in the area when he was 13 and 14. So him and five other players competed in the Bantam League with the Westchester Express in Westchester. Once or twice a week, Hynes and his teammates would carpool down the Northway, getting back home at 1 a.m.
“We took risks, but it was the only option,” Hynes said. “I really started thinking about hockey in the long term.”
Hynes is grateful to his parents, Robin and Jerry, who have given him lots of their time and money. “It’s expensive, but my parents support me all of the way,” Hynes said. “They’ve watched me for long enough to give me pointers about my game. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Finding a legit team in the area, Hynes played for the Clifton Park Dynamo of the Midget League through age 15. Head Coach Brad Shaver, who Hynes says is “one of the most passionate coaches,” directed him. “It was excellent for my development,” Hynes said. “It was more than I could have asked for.”
Hynes, a forward winger, told The Enterprise that he was out of shape when joining the Dynamo, losing to goalies in the fitness tests. “That really woke me up,” he said. “You can’t be losing to goalies. I had to earn my spot and Brad would yell, but it ignites you. I would go through a wall for that guy.”
Last summer, Hynes had a big decision to make: Either stay at Guilderland High School, where he played third base for the baseball team or transfer to Albany Academy for hockey. Academy plays in the highly competitive New England Prep League. While Guilderland has a shared hockey team, it isn’t nearly as competitive.
The Dutchmen baseball team had made it all the way to the Class AA state finals in June 2010 and Hynes had gotten pretty close with Head Coach Doug LaValley.
“My parents and I talked about it numerous times, but I had to put my heart into just one,” Hynes said of choosing hockey over baseball. “It was hard for me to tell Doug, and I didn’t actually know how, but he totally understood. I had to be selfish and do what was right for myself.”
It turned out to be an excellent move. Hynes was the fourth leading scorer in the league with 32 goals and 14 assists, and Albany Academy made it to the Martin/Earl Tournament semifinals with a dazzling 28-7-1 record.
“I had a blast last season,” Hynes admits. “It was the most fun I’ve had so far. It feels like a big deal because I’m playing with great players in a better atmosphere. There’s this prestige that comes with it.”
Hynes said that his team had an “easy button,” like the ones in the Staples commercials. Whenever an Academy player would score, they would skate over and press the button. “That was a fun idea,” said Hynes, who also loved the spirit of the fans. “This one kid bought a $100 skin suit to wear to all of the games. It’s crazy stuff.”
In a home playoff game against Berkshire last season, Hynes scored the tying goal with 30.8 seconds left in regulation time. Albany went on to win the contest.
“That was pretty cool,” Hynes said. “The place went nuts.”
Heading for college puck
Having the ability, and a nose for the net, Hynes likes to score goals. At 5 feet, 10 inches and 180 pounds, he’s not huge for a forward, but competitive enough to make things happen on the ice.
“I’m not going to get outworked and I’m pretty fast,” said Hynes. “You have to move quickly with the puck and anticipate what’s going to happen. But, you can’t really put something in your head and do it. The game is too quick for that. Just react and try not to make yourself look like an idiot.”
A number of prime goal scorers in hockey aren’t physical, but Hynes is all for throwing his body around. “I like to hit and finish checks,” he said. “You’ve got to be aggressive because this sport demands it. If I had to drop the gloves and fight, I would do it. But, my parents would probably kill me.”
Hynes plays baseball for Albany Academy, too. However, hockey is his passion and that’s where he’s putting most of his effort. He scored a 1750 on his SATs and he’s interested in studying physical therapy or business.
Hynes likes to watch Alexander Ovechkin of the National Hockey League in hopes of mimicking some of his moves, but professional hockey might be off his career radar.
“I’m content with college puck,” Hynes said. “You have to be real lucky to make it pro, and then, when you do, you’re probably a suitcase for five years. I’d rather settle down somewhere.”