July 14, 2014
By Steve Lewis - UConn Athletic Communications
STORRS, Conn. – After earning the respect of his teammates and receiving the most player votes, it is senior forward Ryan Tyson (Harleysville, Pa.) who has been named captain of the 2014-15 UConn men’s hockey team. He will be charged with leading the Huskies in their transition to a new conference and home arena.
The Huskies, who are moving their home rink to the XL Center in Hartford, are preparing to compete in the Hockey East Association against some of the best teams in the country. UConn wants to get off to a good start in the conference and players trust Tyson to help make this desire a reality.
“It would definitely be an honor to be elected captain by our coaches, but being chosen by your teammates who you see every day and go to class with is really special,” said Tyson.
From an early age, Tyson was taught by his parents, Eric and Karen, to work for everything he wanted and to not expect anything to come easy. It is because of his “hard work pays off” mentality that he feels he can effectively lead by example.
Though Tyson will serve as captain, he believes every player on the team holds just as much responsibility to make good choices, stay positive, practice hard, and exhibit leadership qualities.
“I’m very happy, honored, and excited to represent UConn hockey, but I’m not the only leader on the team,” said the senior forward. “There are another 25 guys on the team who are going to lead in their own way and that’s what we will need to be successful.”
Tyson will have help from UConn’s two alternate captains, senior forward Trevor Gerling (Seattle, Wash.) and junior forward Patrick Kirtland (Cary, N.C.). The trio will not only be co-captains, but they will also be roommates for the upcoming school year.
“Patrick is just a great guy and always works hard and is very humble. We’ve also developed a great relationship over the past few years and I’m excited to spend my last year with him,” said Tyson about the first-year alternate captain.
His relationship with Gerling is just as strong, making the group compatible.
“Trevor and I have been great friends since the beginning of freshman year, we lived across the hall from each other… He wore the “A” last year so he knows how to handle himself and I’ll hopefully learn from him,” said Tyson about Gerling, who served as alternate captain last season.
Gerling will be living with Tyson in place of graduated senior Billy Latta, who was one of two UConn captains in the 2013-14 season.
Tyson, who served as team captain during his senior season at Westminster School in Simsbury, has prior leadership experience that he feels will translate to his position as UConn captain.
“I don’t think I need to change the way I act on and off the ice. My peers voted for me, Trevor and Patrick because of who we are,” said Tyson. “I just think we need to carry ourselves with a well-mannered posture and make sure the guys stay in line.”
Now that captains have been chosen, the Huskies must focus on the upcoming season, which is expected to be a big challenge for the Hockey East newcomer.
“It’s a great league, probably the best in the country,” said Tyson. “I don’t think there’s much pressure on us to be successful. It’s obviously a change, but we just have to be ready to compete Friday and Saturday no matter who we’re playing.”
The Huskies are dealing with two big changes this season, being Hockey East and the move to the XL Center, which will be the new home of UConn men’s hockey. Rather than playing at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum on campus, the Huskies will now be traveling approximately 30 minutes west to play in a 16,000-plus seat arena.
Tyson seems confident in the team’s ability to adjust.
“We’re used to the rink on campus, it’s obviously a lot smaller with fewer stands, but I think we’ll get used to it pretty quick,” said the Husky captain. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. You need to be ready to go and we can only control what is in our hands, we can’t control how the rink is, how the ice is, or who we’re playing.”
Tyson is not known as a lethal goal scorer, but instead leads by example in other ways. His effort to play fundamentally-sound hockey trumps his desire to always focus on putting the puck in the net. It’s his defense and decision-making that he relies on.
“My game is defense-oriented. I try not to make a lot of mistakes. I want to be solid in the defensive zone and the neutral zone,” said Tyson, who has scored eight total goals in his first three seasons at UConn.
“I have decent speed, I can skate well and I can make tough decisions, so I want to be an all-around solid player. I’ve also been more focused on improving my offensive game,” said the captain, who has taken 110 shots in 87 collegiate games.
The senior forward is taking full advantage of the summer months, using them to prepare for the first game on Oct. 10 against Penn State. Tyson works out five times a week with a local trainer and a group of other Division I players, as well as takes time to skate on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
The Husky captain participates in a summer league on Tuesday nights, which helps to keep him fit and improve his skills. Tyson also works for his father a few days during the week, helping him with construction jobs and staying busy.
“I’ve been busy training-wise and I’m trying to get in as much as possible just to stay busy. Preparation will be very important for us and I know the rest of my teammates are doing the same,” said Tyson.
Approaching his final season at UConn, Tyson hopes to continue his playing career after he graduates, but is open to other opportunities as well if hockey doesn’t work out.
Regardless of what the future holds for the Husky captain, he wants to give UConn a strong start in Hockey East. Tyson wants to bestow a hard-working and competitive mentality in his teammates to make the upcoming year a success.
“We want to set the tone that it doesn’t matter who we play or what league we play in. We know that other teams are probably going to look at us like an underdog,” said Tyson.
“We’re happy to be in Hockey East, it’s an honor for me and my classmates to get to play there for one or two years, but we’re not happy just to be here. We want to compete and we want to be ready. We want to be playing in that last game of the season.”