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Wong looks to continue impressing Golden Knights

Undrafted free agent forward will play in rookie games against Kings

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / Staff Writer

SUMMERLIN, Nevada -- Tyler Wong has that special ability to leave a lasting impression.

It comes through whether it's in hockey, horse reining or community service.

Wong, 21, has made enough of an impression at Vegas Golden Knights rookie camp to be placed on a line with Reid Duke and Alex Tuch. The three are expected to be together when Vegas rookies play Los Angeles Kings rookies Tuesday and Wednesday at the Kings practice facility in El Segundo, California.

Tuch is ahead of most, having played six games for the Minnesota Wild last season. Wong signed in May with the Chicago Wolves, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues.

"We played together at development camp," Wong said. They're two amazing players. Alex is a very good skater, a big body (6-foot-4, 222 pounds) that uses his frame to his advantage. I've known [Duke] since I was 7 years old. We have that chemistry.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to click and score some goals in L.A."

Wong (5-9, 176) went undrafted and just completed his final junior season with Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League. He led the WHL with 51 goals and was third with 109 points last season after participating in development camp and training camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016.

"To be able to put on an NHL uniform is an amazing opportunity," Wong said. "This year, I'm coming into it a little bit more mature, trying to not get too nervous or stressed out, taking that experience and putting it into this camp where I can be confident and make more plays."

His impact in Lethbridge was considerable.

"He leaves it on the ice every time he plays," Vegas assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "He always finds a way to emerge and be successful. He played five years in Lethbridge and was a great player. He was part of their program in transitioning from a team that had a lot of struggles to a real good team." 

Wong won a WHL humanitarian award three straight seasons in Lethbridge. His primary focus was the KidSport initiative, raising about $13,000, he said.

Wong and his two brothers were home-schooled in Cochrane, Alberta, and they were involved in Calgary with the Mustard Seed, an organization helping the homeless.

He's been giving back since he was a third-grader.

"It was a big part of the way I was raised," Wong said. "My mom is amazing. When we were younger, we would go volunteer and make sandwiches for the local homeless shelter.

"She was always volunteering her time. To be able to follow in her footsteps a little and be able to do that was something I always thought about. She always made sure me and my brothers knew that playing hockey is not a right, it's a blessing."

Hockey wasn't the only sporting activity in the Wong household. Wong, his brothers and his mother train and ride horses for reining competitions, events designed to test the athletic ability of ranch-type horses.

"Animals always teach people an awful lot," his mother, Julie Olenyk-Wong, said. "I believe it has taught him a lot."

Tyler's brother Colton will be riding at an event in Las Vegas at South Point Arena & Equestrian Center later this week. It's a nice coincidence for the family, combining hockey and horses.

Tyler's competitive nature carries over from the rink, but only to a point.

"When I ride, I always try to win," he said. "But it's more of a getaway from the rink. With horses, it's more of my recreation and more of a relaxing time. Hockey is win, win, win, and everything is about that."

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