Making the jump from college hockey to professional hockey can be daunting, but T.J. Tynan has been up to the task this season. The former Notre Dame star is making an impact in his first season with the Springfield Falcons.
Tynan’s handling the adjustment well, as he’s put up an 8-28-36 line this season to lead the Falcons in points. That’s quite an impressive feat for a first-year AHL player, but it’s a testament to Tynan’s skill set -- he’s a playmaker by nature who can make things happen in the offensive end.
“I think everyone’s just a little bigger, faster, stronger and smarter at this level,” Tynan told BlueJackets.com. “Obviously, this is the level below the greatest league in the world, so you’re going to have a lot of great players. I’m a playmaking center who likes to pass and create opportunities for his teammates. I like to bring a lot of offense, but I know that I have to be relied upon defensively as well."
Tynan is going to be relied upon more than ever down the stretch for the Falcons, who are in the thick of a playoff race as the regular season winds down.
With 73 points on the season, the Falcons are holding down eighth place in the Eastern Conference, slotting them in the last playoff spot. It's not the most comfortable position, which goes without saying, but the Falcons have had to deal with adversity at seemingly every turn.
Earlier this season, the Falcons held the AHL lead in points, but long-term injuries to key players such as Austin Madaisky and Kerby Rychel -- and now, an injury to No. 1 goaltender Anton Forsberg -- have made Tynan’s contributions even more important.
"I think we’re doing pretty well, we’ve been on a couple streaks here we were playing good and bad," Tynan said. "Obviously, there's a lot of adversity right now. We’re just trying to play well and put ourselves in a good position for a playoff spot."
The Calder Cup is the ultimate goal for Tynan and the Falcons this year. It would be a fitting end for Tynan, who’s season started with a championship.
Tynan was part of the Blue Jackets prospect team that traveled to the Traverse City, Mich., for the NHL Prospects Tournament in September and won the whole thing. It was the third tournament title in Blue Jackets history and they did it in impressive fashion, blazing through the early stages before edging the Dallas Stars on a Josh Anderson overtime goal.
“It was my first time up there, since I played in college," Tynan said. "That was a really cool experience, going there and winning it. Obviously, we had a lot of great players on our team and a lot of good guys. It was really cool seeing the team gel quickly and play well."