As a young hockey player, Avalanche prospect Tyson Barrie
didn’t always stand out. He was not a child prodigy nor was he always the top player on his team, yet the now 18-year-old defenseman serves as captain for the defending Western Hockey League Champion Kelowna Rockets.
“I wasn’t the best player until maybe my second year of bantams, when I was 14-or 15-years-old. I wasn’t bad or anything, but I started working out and then started to get a little faster and things just went from there.”
Barrie led the Rockets to the WHL championship last season by recording four goals and 14 assists in 22 postseason games, giving Kelowna a berth the Memorial Cup.
|In eight games with Kelowna this season, Barrie has totaled 11 points (4g/7a) |
For the uninitiated, the Memorial Cup serves as the championship for the Canadian Hockey League. The winners of the WHL, Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the host team duke it out in the round-robin tournament to determine who will play in the championship game. In the tournament, Barrie tallied four assists in four games as the Rockets finished second to the Windsor Spitfires.
Scouts took notice of the Victoria, British Columbia native’s performance, and he was selected by Colorado in the third round (64th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Following the Avalanche’s 2009 rookie camp, Barrie returned for his third complete season with Kelowna in hopes of one day working his way onto NHL ice. He knows just what he needs to do to get there.
“Just getting faster and stronger. I’m going to continue to work out off the ice. Just make strides to keep getting better, and hopefully be in Colorado in the next couple of years.”
Unfortunately, Kelowna’s star hit a rough patch to start the season. On Sept. 25, during the third game of the year, Barrie suffered knee and upper-body injuries which knocked him out of the lineup.
After rehabbing for nearly a month, Barrie returned to play at full force. In the first five games following his return, the defenseman totaled nine points (3g/6a).
Barrie was raised in a hockey family. His father, Len, is a former NHL player and current co-owner and president of the Tampa Bay Lightening. The younger Barrie admits that his father helped him along the way, but he is forging his own path en route to the NHL.
“My dad has probably been the biggest influence on my hockey career, for sure. He coached me all the way through minor hockey. As much as he helped me, I like to kind of do it on my own without taking handouts.”
As for this season, the captain hopes he can lead the young Rockets back to the Memorial Cup. Though Kelowna currently stands third in the Western Conference’s B.C. division, Barrie thinks his team can produce another run at the title.
“Last year we had a really good team and we’re losing a lot of our top-end guys, but I’m expecting to step up into more of a leadership role. We have young guys coming up who are going to help as well, so I think we’re going to have another good year.”