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Tychonick has unique background for Senators

Defenseman, selected in second round of 2018 Draft, grew up training and competing in triathlons

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / Staff Writer

Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, it was natural that hockey would be a big part of Jonathan Tychonick's life.

But for Tychonick, who was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the second round (No. 48) in the 2018 NHL Draft, there was another sport that drew his interest early on: triathlons. He was inspired to get involved in them by his uncle, Chris Daniel, who has competed in the sport off and on for more than 20 years.

"I just wanted to be like my uncle," Tychonick said. "So he got me a bike, some running shoes, a swim cap and goggles. I just loved it."

Tychonick, 18, competed in triathlons from the ages of 10-13, with his best finish coming at the 2010 Apple Triathlon in Kelowna, British Columbia. At 10-years-old, he won the 10-11 division, finishing a 200-meter swim, 5-kilometer bike ride and 2-km run in 26:38.

Chris Daniel, 57, set his personal best at the 2008 Ford Ironman Florida at Panama City Beach, finishing the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run in 9:34:51. He also won the 55-59 age group at 2017 Penticton ITU Aquabike World Championships, finishing a three-kilometer swim and a 120-km bike ride in 4:06:43. Chris' son, Stefan, 21, won the 2015 Para Triathlon World Championships and won the silver medal in the men's PT4 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

"That type of sport is pretty near and dear to my heart," Chris said. "When they were younger, because of their proximity, I wanted the boys to learn how to swim. It's more fun when it's just not my two children but the cousins, too. The more involved, the more fun it is. It was natural for me to include [Tychonick] and his brothers with the sports I cared about."

Now, Tychonick's focus is on hockey. In 2017-18, he finished third among defenseman with 47 points (nine goals, 38 assists) for Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League and will attend the University of North Dakota in the fall.

Tychonick, who hasn't competed in a triathlon since he was 14, said having that background has been beneficial for his hockey career.

"You go to the gym and get stronger, but I think the cardio side is important, having energy in the third period," Tychonick said. "So we would always go for swims, bikes and runs. It's a lot of fun. Plus, spending time with [my family] is the biggest thing."

Stefan said, "Triathlon is a pretty humbling sport. You have to do a lot of training to be competitive, so it teaches you to manage your time and to be disciplined with things such as rest and nutrition. We trained hard with [Tychonick] multiple times each week, and I think that will help him with being able to compete at a high level each night throughout the NHL season."

Although Tychonick is concentrated on hockey, he isn't finished with triathlons and wants to compete in an Ironman once his hockey career is done.

"He'd not only compete in one, but he would try to break my dad's best Ironman time on his first attempt," Stefan said. "The kid's truly fearless. He's never shied away from anything. I don't expect him to shy away from an Ironman."

But for now, Tychonick's next challenge is reaching the NHL.

"I think the best thing for him is he didn't get drafted in the first round because it'll continue to motivate him, make him hungry," Chris said. "I'm glad that he still knows he has a lot of work ahead of him, but from a work-ethic perspective, I'm not worried about that. I'll keep telling him to focus on the things you can control: can you put yourself at the top of the heap? That can help differentiate you now. If he does all those things, he has a good shot at playing in the show."

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