"It was a tough decision. Obviously, North Dakota was great to me and I have the utmost respect for that organization and everything they've done for me in that year. I could go on and on and talk about how great that program is and how much they did for me and the coaching staff there and all the players," Jost said of his decision to forego further collegiate play. "I just thought I wanted to take that next step, and I wanted a challenge and I wanted to kind of take that risk. At the end of the day, I've dreamed about this my whole life, of playing in the NHL, and it was right there in front of me and I thought why not take it. This is my dream."
Jost signed a shiny, three-year, entry-level contract on Wednesday, diving headlong into a fantasy he's fostered since he was a boy. The decision came just five days after a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Boston University Terriers in the NCAA West Regional in Fargo, North Dakota.
The Fighting Hawks fell 4-3 in double overtime despite peppering Terriers netminder Jake Oettinger with 59 shots through 91:48 of action. North Dakota looked to have a victory in the first extra frame, but the goal was called off due to a player going offside.
"It was tough. I remember when the refs were reviewing it there. I was like, 'Guys, this may not be a goal. Let's kind of settle back in and get focused,'" Jost said. "Obviously, we know the result, but it was definitely a wave of emotions. Lot of ups and downs in that game, for sure. It was long. We went into double overtime. We had so many shots, and we were playing good. Just disappointed we didn't get the outcome we wanted."
Now that his college days are behind him, Jost is choosing to focus on his burgeoning professional career.
"I'm done with it. I don't want to pick anyone," he said of the teams remaining in the Frozen Four. "Obviously, it's tough to watch just because I wanted to be in that situation. I really wanted to win a national championship. We had such a great group at NoDak there. We had a really tight-knit group in the locker room. I wish all the best to those teams, but obviously I'd like to be there."
Instead, he took the following days to come to a decision on his future. He could have stayed in Grand Forks, working on his education and chasing the dream again next season, but watching a teammate like Brock Boeser leave for the NHL and linemates Shane Gersich and Austin Poganski enter talks of making the leap reignited his deep-seated desire to join the ranks of the top tier of the sport.
"Obviously, I saw Boeser have success when he played a few games with Vancouver there. He scored his first goal in his first game, and I thought he looked like he really fit in," Jost said. "So that was one thing that I kind of looked at. I said, 'Well, I think I can make that jump, too.' I looked up to him this year, and I really took a lot from him and learned a lot from him, for sure. I'm happy for the success he's having in Vancouver.
"I was with Gersich and Poganski and sometimes Boeser, too, on that top line, and I think that was huge for my development. I was getting other teams' top pairings to try and shut us down, and I think that really helped me with stepping to the NHL and kind of elevating my game."
So Jost had a decision to make. He took some time after the season to reach out to those close to him, considered what the Avalanche presented and ultimately took control of his future once more, like he did when he declared he was going the NCAA route.
"There's a lot of little things that went into it. Obviously, I spent a lot of time with my family and my agent, just talking over the decision. Obviously, [spoke] a lot with the Avs organization, too. At the end of the day, I just thought it was best if I came up here and signed that contract. It was a dream come true," said Jost. "I wanted to take my time. I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision. I think that's just the type of person I am. I'm making sure I'm doing the right thing, and I really wanted to do my homework on everything. They were good about that, and they really respected that."
The St. Abert, Alberta, native spoke to a few people with the Avalanche, from now-teammate Nathan MacKinnon to executive vice president/general manager Joe Sakic, while contemplating his choice.
"They respected that I loved my time at UND, and they knew I was going to make the right decision," Jost said. "Obviously, they kind of went over the pros and cons. Me and Joe had a really good talk, and that was about it. But they were really respectful about my decision. They gave me time and they gave me my space, and they were really professional about it and good about it."
When it came time to make a determination, seeing his dream contained in a paper document before him was enough to make an easy conclusion.
"A lot went through my head, but then when that contract was in front of me, I thought, 'Yeah, this is my dream, and this is what I've wanted all my life. I've worked for almost 18 years to get to this point.' So I thought I'd sign," Jost admitted. "It was a wave of emotions. Obviously, it was a dream come true to sign my contract and be with this organization. It happened in a pretty quick span of time there. Things went pretty quick. I didn't really get to enjoy it just because it was kind of a rough process but to say the least, I'm really excited to be a part of this organization.
"I want to be a part of the rebuild, and I want to do whatever I can to help this team in that rebuild stage. Obviously, they're struggling a little bit right now, but I think I can bring some energy and some pace into this lineup. I'm still very honored and happy to be part of this organization. They're not having the success they want, but I'm still very proud to be part of the Avs organization."
Family is important to Jost, and he's frequently expressed as much to anyone who asks. He was raised by a single mother, with help from his grandparents. So those closest to him were the first to hear the news.
"I called my mom. I think you guys know a little bit about how important she is in my life. Then my grandma and grandpa, too," Jost said. "Obviously, I met with the UND coaches after that and kind of told them, and they were really good about the process there. They respected my decision. I have the utmost respect for that organization and what they did for me in that year I was there with them."
After that, it was time to move. Jost packed his stuff and headed out to Colorado to meet with Avalanche staff for medicals before hitting the ice for practice… kind of.
"It was kind of a whirlwind flying in really early this morning, and I kind of knew I wasn't going to make practice," Jost said. "I was out there a little late and it was a little bit awkward, but it was good. The guys have been awesome so far, and they've really made it feel like home here.
"When I came in, everybody introduced themselves… They made me feel like I was at home."
Video: Jared Bednar on Tyson Jost
Although he didn't make head coach Jared Bednar's group session, Jost did linger on the ice with potential linemate Matt Duchene and assistant coach Tim Army, among others.
"He didn't get out there until we were done practicing. He hasn't been on the ice in a few days, so he's going to go out there, get the feel for his new equipment and everything, and then we'll brush him up a little bit on some video stuff so he's ready to go when his immigration's done," Bednar said. "I basically just told him [to] get loose. He's just meeting all the guys and everything, so it's an exciting time for him. It's an exciting time for us, to get him in here and get him to join our group, and we'll make him feel as relaxed as we possibly can and then brush him up, not give him too much to think about going into his first couple games."
The plan is for Jost to get some game action as soon as possible, though that all depends on when his working paperwork is in order, as he has to have proper immigration documents filed in order to be eligible to play.
"We have to wait and see when his immigration gets done, see when he's going to get in the lineup, and then we're still kind of figuring out our lines for tomorrow night," Bednar said. "I don't know what one he's going to play on yet, to be honest."
So for now, the plan is to prepare. Jost is joining the Avalanche in a period of great struggle, but the chance to see action before the 2016-17 campaign comes to a close will help him get ready to compete for a roster spot next year.
"He's going to familiarize himself with the league," Bednar said of Jost's decision to play now instead of waiting for next season. "Getting used to the pace of the game, the size and strength of the the players, familiarizing himself with the way we're playing, our team; I think there's a lot of benefits for him coming out now and getting some experience here, so it's not all new to him next year after training camp."
"I think I can really get a taste of what the NHL game is like and really adjust to that pace and just get in the mindset and work on things," Jost said, agreeing with his coach's assessment. "I can see what I need to work on in the offseason, really take that back home or here, if I'm training here in the summer, and really see the things I need to step up in my game."
Now that the dust is settling and the accumulation of years of hard work--truly the first of many to come--is upon him, Jost is finally starting to feel the sickening pangs of excitement as his NHL debut looms large on the horizon.
"I think there's definitely some nerves. Obviously, it's exciting. It's something that you dream about when you're 2 years old and you're watching the NHL on TV there on Saturday night, Hockey Night In Canada," Jost admitted. "It's something that I've just dreamed about my whole life. When that opportunity comes, whenever it does come, I'm going to be ready and I'm definitely going to be excited about it. I'm sure I'm going to have a little bit of nerves. I'm only human. I'm just going to embrace it all."
Yet even though he has hardly set his skates on Colorado's ice, his reputation has already preceded him. Fellow rookie Mikko Rantanen admitted that he hasn't seen anything from Jost just yet, but that he knows the Avalanche's first-round (10th overall) selection at the 2016 NHL Draft will be alright.
Video: Mikko Rantanen on the Avalanche's offense
"He's a great player. I've never seen him play yet, but I heard he's a heck of a player," Rantanen said. "So [I'd say] just enjoy it and try to be yourself on the ice and do your thing. That's what you want to do. We don't have pressure in the last six games, so we can play with a fresh mindset and try to do our best. I'm 100 percent sure that Tyson's going to do great."
If the past year is any indication, Rantanen could be right. Playing at North Dakota provided a valuable year of learning and growing and developing, and now it's time for the next phase of that journey.
"It seems like that year, it flew by," Jost said of leaving junior hockey to play in college. "I think coming into the summer there at North Dakota was definitely helpful with that jump. Obviously, college hockey is definitely a step up from Junior A, and I had to kind of change a few things in my game and whatnot, but other than that it was just pretty smooth. I had guys that I could look up to like Boeser and Gersich and Poganski, and I thought they really helped me make that adjustment.
"I thought I did good with it. With the year I had and that side of things, it was amazing… It honestly was one of the [most fun] years of my life, and really I thought I grew as a person and a player, too. I'm so happy I chose and went to that program."
Video: Follow the Avs behind the scenes of the 2016 Draft