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FUTURE WATCH | Climbing the ladder

by Meg Tilley / Edmonton Oilers

Photo by Rachel Lewis / Insidehockey.com

The world suddenly stopped, or at the very least, the activity in Tyler Vesel’s Rochester, MN, home was suddenly in slow motion.

Vesel was standing stock still, while his eyes — locked on the television in front of him — stared at his name as it flickered across the bottom of the screen. Was his mind playing tricks?

“My brother and little cousin were there with me and they were just going nuts and my heart was just racing so hard — it was just so crazy,” said Vesel.

Selected by the Oilers in round six, 153rd overall, of the 2014 NHL Draft, it was so unexpected that he didn’t know what to think or what to do.

“It was so incredible,” he said. “I ended up going for a run right after because I just had to do something. My heart was racing so hard I just went for a run, came back and was [finally] able to calm myself down a bit.”

It all happened so quickly that Vesel has a hard time recalling the specifics leading up to how the events unfolded.

“I don’t really remember what I was doing. I was upstairs and the draft was on the TV,” he said. “I wasn’t really paying attention — I think I was eating or something — and I got the call from my advisor and he said he was at the draft and he said that I had been drafted and he didn’t know who it was to, he had just heard my name.”

Then his advisor hung up.

“He was going to call me when he found out for sure, and I started watching the TV and right as he called me back I saw it scroll across the bottom that it was to the Oilers,” said Vesel.

It’s one of many exciting moments that have marked the young centre’s hockey career. Now, a sophomore skating for the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, Vesel has been working hard on enhancing his two-way playing style.

“I’ve got to work on my skating, and that comes with strength really. If I can get stronger in my legs I can become a faster and more efficient skater, that’s one of the main things I’ve been trying to work on,” he explained.

“Just playing and being hard to play against is another thing that I’ve been trying to work on. These are things that the Oilers coaching staff and I have put together and we’ve been assessing that throughout the year.”

Vesel is all about hard work. In order to reap the rewards, you first have to sweat the small stuff. Something he may have picked up when he first started skating.

Photo by Rachel Lewis / Insidehockey.com

“The first time I went out [on the ice] with a stick and a puck I remember my mom telling me that whenever I fell I would never want to get up and would start crying — I didn’t like it at first, I wanted to quit,” he said.

But Vesel kept pushing through it. His hard work and tenacity paid off when he attended and played for the Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school Sabres in Faribault, MN in Grade 9.

“It was different. It was only about 45 minutes from my house, which was nice,” said Vesel. “Some people travel across the world to play at Shattuck. I was fortunate enough to be close enough where I could see my family still and not feel that homesickness. It was great for me, moving away, getting more independent and just growing up quicker. I think that helped me mature more as a person and as a player.”

It certainly reflected in his third season skating with the Sabres. In 57 games, Vesel scored 29 goals and added 45 assists, becoming the team’s third-leading scorer. That same year, Shattuck captured the 2012 USA Hockey Tier 1 national championship, defeating the Los Angeles Junior Kings 2-1, and finishing the season with a 50-5-2 record.

“We had a great team that year and I’ll never forget the last seconds ticking off that clock and the whole team jumping off that bench and cheering — it was a lot of fun and I’ll never forget that moment,” said Vesel.

Drafted by the USHL's Omaha Lancers in 2013 after a strong senior year, Vesel made a smooth transition from high school to college hockey..

“It was a good experience for me — guys are bigger and faster… and you have to make decisions a little bit faster,” said Vesel.

A year playing in the USHL with the Lancers saw the forward continue his development hot-streak, becoming the second-leading scorer, recording 33 goals and adding 38 assists for 71 points in 49 games.

Fast-forward to present day, it’s hard to believe that with only one full college season under his belt, Vesel could be considered a seasoned player on the young Nebraska-Omaha team.

“We only have three seniors and only five juniors, the rest of us are sophomore or freshmen,” he said. “But we have a really bright future and that’s part of the reason I chose [to attend].”

His no-longer amateur status speaks volumes, as he’s started to notice a difference playing in the league this year versus his time as a freshman.

“Things are slowing down a bit. In my eyes, you have more time to make plays,” he said.

Photo provided

But the young forward still knows what it’s like to be the new kid on the block, having been one of only 10 freshmen selected to play with the team last year. This year, Vesel has started to foster more of a leadership role.

“Personally, I just talk to the guys and just always say hi, have a smile on my face,” he said. “If they ever have any questions, then I answer to the best of my ability and if I see something that they’re doing wrong or can improve on, I’ll point it out to them. You know they try and if it works great, if it doesn’t then I give them something else to try.

“I had a great captain last year who did the same for me so I just try to live up to what he did for me and teach the guys what it takes.”

With four games left in the Mavericks season, the Nebraska-Omaha team is looking to secure a Top-16 spot once more with hopes to return to the NCAA Frozen Four.

“We’re trying to take it one step at a time,” said Vesel. “If we can win on Friday night then we’ll go from there, but our goal right now is night-by-night. We’re just focused on that. We have a great team and we had a great practice this week and I think we should be ready for that Friday night puck drop.”

Statistics For In The System Through Past Seasons: 14-15 | 13-14 | 12-13 | 11-12
Stats Updated as of Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bakersfield (AHL) - Forwards


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
GREG CHASE C 20 19 1 6 7 +3 25
BRADEN CHRISTOFFER LW 21 30 1 3 4 -11 57
JOSH CURRIE* C 23 35 4 6 10 +4 35
LEON DRAISAITL C 20 6 1 1 2 -5 4
MATTHEW FORD*   RW 31 43 20 18 38 +1 50
LUKE GAZDIC   LW 26 8 1 2 3 +2 4
RYAN HAMILTON   LW 30 45 15 10 25 -6 34
KELLEN JONES*   LW 25 12 1 2 3 0 6
ZACK KASSIAN   RW 24 7 2 1 3 0 16
KALE KESSY   LW 23 42 7 5 12 +6 47
JUJHAR KHAIRA   LW 21 31 8 13 21 +5 30
ROB KLINKHAMMER   LW 29 11 9 4 13 +6 22
ALEXIS LOISEAU*   C 21 12 1 2 3 +1 2
ANDREW MILLER   RW/C 27 39 13 24 37 +2 16
MITCH MOROZ   LW 21 30 2 4 6 +3 83
PHILIP MCRAE* C 25 23 3 2 5 -5 14
IIRO PAKARINEN   RW 24 4 1 2 3 0 4
TYLER PITLICK   RW 24 23 4 8 12 -3 4
KYLE PLATZER RW 20 36 5 8 13 -4 16
MARC-OLIVIER ROY* C 21 28 5 3 8 -3 14
ANTON SLEPYSHEV LW 21 28 7 2 9 -11 16
JOSH WINQUIST*   LW 22 18 8 10 18 -2 24
BOGDAN YAKIMOV   C/W 21 19 3 4 7 -5 8
DANIIL ZHARKOV (INJURED)
LW 21 - - - - - -
Bakersfield (AHL) - Defencemen


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER   d 21 1 0 0 0 0 0
MARK FAYNE   d 28 4 0 1 1 0 4
MARTIN GERNAT   d 22 22 0 3 3 0 14
brad hunt   D 27 37 8 22 30 +4 14
JOEY LALEGGIA   D 23 42 7 15 22 +11 32
DAVID MUSIL D 22 46 3 6 9 +1 25
NIKITA NIKITIN   D 29 27 1 13 14 -9 0
DARNELL NURSE   D 20 6 0 1 1 0 7
JORDAN OESTERLE   d 23 39 2 20 22 -1 8
NICK PAGEAU*   D 27 12 0 1 1 -5 2
GRIFFIN REINHART   D 21 22 1 6 7 +6 12
DILLON SIMPSON
D 22 36 1 9 10 -3 12
Norfolk (ECHL)


Name POS age    GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER D 21 47 2 13 15 -2 47
GREG CHASE F 20 24 13 7 20 -1 26
Canadian Hockey League
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
CALEB JONES  D 18 59 9 37 46 +4 60 PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (WHL)
ETHAN BEAR  D 18 58 16 41 57   +8 33 SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS (WHL)
NCAA & USHL
Name POS age  GP G A   P +/- PIM team
EVAN CAMPBELL   LW 22 28 5  7 12 +4 16 UMASS-LOWELL (NCAA)
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 23 2 4 6 -6 18 UMASS-AMHERST (NCAA)
JOHN MARINO d 18 40 3 17 20 +9 37 TRI-CITY (USHL)
AIDAN MUIR LW 20 29 1 6 7 -11 16 WESTERN MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TYLER VESEL   C 21 29 6 11 17 +6 2 NEBRASKA-OMAHA (NCAA)
Europe
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
ROMAN HORAK C 24 57 15 12 27 -9 32 CHEKHOV VITYAZ (KHL)
PHILIP LARSEN   D 25 53 11 26 37 +10 39 JOKERIT HELSINKI (KHL)
ZIYAT PAIGIN  F 20 38 9 18 27 +2 8 SOCHI HC (KHL)
  8 0 1 1 +2 2 KAZAN AK-BARS (KHL)
ANTTI TYRVAINEN  F 26 12 3 1 4 -2 16 FARJESTADS BK KARLSTAD (Sweden)
  13 5 1 6 +1 53 ILVES TAMPERE (finland)
2016 World Junior Hockey Championships
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 7 2 1 3 +7 4 SWEDEN
Goaltenders
Name age GP w l T GAA SV% team
KEVEN BOUCHARD   19 10 3 4 2 3.28 .881 MONCTON WILDCATS (qmjHL)
  21 4 13 2 3.97 .872 baie-comeau (qmjHL)
LAURENT BROSSOIT 22 27 14 9 3 2.72 .920 bakersfield (AHL)
EETU LAURIKAINEN 22 9 4 5 0 3.41 .903 BAKERSFIELD (AHL)
8 3 5 0 2.16 .920 HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)
ZACH NAGELVOORT   21 9 5 2 1 3.37 .905 michigan (ncaa)
AnDERS NILSSON 25 2 2 0 0 2.01 .935 BAKERSFIELD (AHL)
MIROSLAV SVOBODA   20 1 0 1 0 6.00 .750 TRINEC OCELARI (CZECH)
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