It may sound a bit strange, but Tyler Weiman is a rookie camp veteran.
Weiman, who was drafted in the fifth round (164th overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, has attended every Avalanche Rookie Camp since he became a member of Colorado’s system.
If you’re counting at home, that makes this week’s Rookie Camp number six on the list, something that makes the netminder chuckle a bit when asked what he’s learned from being a “veteran rookie”.
“I guess the nerves aren’t there as much coming into camp because you know what to expect, you know the players coming in and are more comfortable with the surroundings,” said Weiman.
Drafted out of the Western Hockey League as a member of the Tri-City Americans, Weiman has since climbed through the Avalanche system, seeing action in the Central Hockey League, the East Coast Hockey League and the American Hockey League in the past three seasons.
Not having a team to consistently call his own hasn’t deterred Weiman, who has continued to work on his game while patiently waiting for an opportunity. In the meantime, he has been successful at nearly every stop he’s made along the way.
“From day one, I’ve tried to do whatever the Avalanche have requested of me. I’ve always looked at it as a challenge and tried to get better every year,” said Weiman. “At every level I’ve competed the coaches have told me what to work on. I’ve taken that advice and strived to get better as a player.”
One season that stands out in particular is the 2004-05 campaign that Weiman spent just up the road from Denver with the CHL’s Colorado Eagles. While many first-year professionals struggle with the expectations that go along with adjusting to a higher level of play and a faster game speed, that wasn’t the case with the Saskatoon, Sask., native. His lone season with the Eagles proved to be, as he puts it, a “dream season”, as the squad captured the President’s Cup Championship.
All the 5-foot-10 netminder did that season was post a 33-6-5 record while leading the league in wins, shutouts (8), goals-against average (1.80) and save percentage (.938) along the way. He continued his torrid pace through the playoffs, where he topped all CHL goaltenders with eight victories.
Not bad for a fresh-faced, first-year professional.
What made that Eagles team so successful, according to Weiman, was the camaraderie and chemistry between the players, as evidenced by the fact that he still calls up his former teammates on occasion to reminisce about their championship season and have a good laugh.
“Anyone who wins a championship says that it’s the number one thing that sticks out about their time with a team,” said Weiman. “But even more importantly, I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. They were a great bunch of guys. They won the championship again last year and I was really happy for them.”
At this year’s Avalanche Rookie Camp, he proved to be solid in goal and even made one highlight-reel save that left the crowd gasping and his opposition frustrated. During a flurry of action in front of his net, Weiman found himself in a seated position after making a save. Before he could recover into his stance, fellow Avs prospect David Jones picked up a loose puck and fired it toward the seemingly open net. With one quick movement, Weiman – still seated – snagged the shot out of the air with his glove.
When questioned about the play, he brushes off the praise and quickly changes the topic back to the task at hand – enjoying his time at rookie camp and battling for a position.
“I got lucky on that play; Jonesy shot the puck right in my glove.” said Weiman with a wide smile. “But it’s been fun being here with the guys, trying to show what you’ve got, trying to get better every day and competing for a job.”
While luck may have played a bit of a factor on that save, it’s been preparation and hard work that have helped Tyler Weiman attain the success he’s enjoyed throughout his young career.