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Future Watch: Tyler Bunz

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Tyler Bunz prepares for a shot at Oilers Development Camp (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)

June 26, 2010 is the date that will forever be etched in the memory of Medicine Hat Tigers goaltender Tyler Bunz. In the fifth round, 121st overall, his ambition of playing in the NHL took another leap forward. The Edmonton Oilers made the selection as the dream of a St. Albert native was realized. 

"I will never forget that day," Bunz said of the moment. "I don't think words could describe what I felt. Just to be drafted is an amazing feeling, but to be drafted by your hometown team that you've watched for years growing up, it was something special. It is such an honour to be looked at as a future prospect with the Edmonton Oilers."

Although the draft experience was certainly a memorable one, there was little time for reflection. In only six short months since that day, Bunz has been thrust into the limelight with a series of camps that dominated his summer and early fall schedule.

Despite the heavy workload as the 18-year old prepared for his season with the Tigers, it was an incredible opportunity to make a good first impression with the organization; experiences that Bunz says were "a lot of fun."

"I learned a ton from the Oilers goalie coach Freddie Chabot, and I've brought those things into this season with the Tigers. They provided feedback for me to bring back to keep working on, and feedback on things I should improve on -- such things as rebound control and always be trying to improve skating, as most goalies should."

"It is a prestige organization and you can tell they care about their players, on the team or not. They are always staying in touch and giving you feedback throughout the year."

Consistent feedback from the NHL level has already proven beneficial with the young goaltender, as the notes of improvement have matched his junior club’s methodology. With open eyes and open ears, Bunz has been receptive to both, as he looks to refine his game and further develop an extensive arsenal of technical knowledge and raw athleticism.

"The coaching staff in Medicine Hat do a great job of offering feedback whenever you want it. They always have that ‘open door’ policy, and I use that to my advantage."

Contributing to that positive atmosphere with his coaches has been the willingness to learn and develop a close-knit relationship with his goaltending instructors. Having already established an early bond with Fredric Chabot of the Oilers, Bunz has worked extensively in creating a connection with his coaches throughout his career.

Perhaps most importantly, the young goaltender has developed an excellent working relationship with Medicine Hat goaltending coach, JF Martel.

Tyler Bunz has a discussion with Oilers goaltender coach Fredric Chabot (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club).
"He does a great job with me," said Bunz. "We watch video on every game and go through every situation I faced in that game, and decide whether I should have done something different, or if what I did was perfect; and discuss what I should work on and focus on for next game."

While Bunz has clearly established a protégé role under the guidance of seasoned leaders, the opportunity to watch his NHL heroes has also contributed to his development. With a similar style of athleticism that features astonishing leg quickness, his brand of goaltending is reminiscent of one of the NHL’s best.

With the student qualities that Bunz exudes, this is certainly not a coincidence.

"I like to watch Marc-Andre Fleury. He plays efficiently, and doesn't over-think or over-move. He is a calm and technical goalie who is always in good position. His compete and battle levels are something, I think, we have in common the most. He never gives up on plays and is always quick to square up to rebounds."

Like most young hockey players, the influence and mentorship goes well beyond NHL heroes. The unwavering support from family has been a tremendous gain for the 18-year old as he further climbs the ladder to a professional career.

"My parents were always there for me, through thick and thin when it came to hockey, and life itself. They are the reason I'm where I'm at today," said Bunz. "With the amount of money and hours they've put into my development, I don't think I could ever repay them."

Although his parents have been two of his biggest supporters throughout his career, it turns out that their influence was the initial catalyst for his acquired passion as a goaltender. What has now developed into a promising career between the pipes began under the most humble circumstances.

"I actually never started my first year of hockey until I was in grade four. When I did decide to sign up for hockey, I originally wanted to be a forward -- centre to be specific. But my brother was a goalie as well, and my mom thought I'd get hurt playing forward, so my parents ‘secretly’ signed me up for goalie."

"I was confused, to say the least, when we were shopping for goaltender equipment, rather than player gear."

Naturally, getting to this point in his career has been a collective effort. Bunz says that the influence of his coaches throughout his career has been equally as valuable in terms of support from an on-ice perspective.

Tyler Bunz takes a breather at Oilers Development Camp (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club).
"My goalie coaches I've worked with over the years: John Stevenson, Blaine Russell, and my goalie coach with the Medicine Hat Tigers, JF Martel. All three brought different views and knowledge into developing me into the goalie I am today. I would recommend any of these three men to any goalie looking for guidance and teaching on goaltending skills."

Even with the guidance and ever-evolving coaching systems, Bunz was sure to mention the coaches that helped him develop at a younger age.

"Kevin Pennington, Trevor Wallin, and Darren Leask who all, at some point, coached me in my minor hockey career. They all gave me the chance and resources I needed to succeed and allow me to succeed at a higher level."

"Without any of these people I would not be where I'm at today."

Considering the teachings of some of the most influential people in his life, Bunz has developed the necessary mentality as he eyes his early-season personal goals. At this point in the 2010-11 campaign, Bunz has provided stellar goaltending with the Tigers, as he currently boasts a 16-7-2 record. Although the expectations on an individual level have risen, he remains on an even keel.

"I think if you have the same goals for the year and you stay consistent in achieving them, more than not you will over-achieve the goal you set," said a determined Bunz.

"I just try to allow two goals or less and have an above .900 save percentage for every game I play. If I consistently focus on achieving that night-in and night-out, more times than not I find I can achieve or over-achieve those stats."

With a terrific season currently underway, Bunz believes that the Tigers are embarking on something special. After all, the competitive WHL environment encourages that approach.

"Every year the Tigers are focused on winning a championship. We don't accept anything less than winning," Bunz said. "We've established ourselves as a top team in the league and we know that we have to keep working like we have been to keep this year rolling."

"We're just focused on the next game, and making sure we prepare ourselves to go out and win."

That attitude, focus, and unrelenting determination has led Bunz to have the most workmanlike New Year’s resolution.

"I'm just going to focus on playing consistently like I have been, and always working toward achieving the goals I set with the Oilers at the beginning of the year; which, hopefully, will turn into an even better half of the season."

With the Oilers showing a greater commitment to development time and patience with their prized prospects, that approach will most certainly be utilized with Tyler Bunz. Coaching at every level and a belief in the system will help contribute to the process and develop what the organization hopes will be a special goaltender.

Currently, this is an ongoing sequence happening just a few hours south of the Edmonton skyline, as Bunz looks to lead the Tigers to another successful season in Medicine Hat.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |


Name Age GP G A PTS +/- PIM Team
Cameron Abney   19 25 3 1 4 -4 26 Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Alexander Bumagin   23 24 5 2 7 N/A 16 Novokuznetsk (KHL)
Philippe Cornet   20 22 0 3 3 -4 2 Oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Drew Czerwonka   18 33 10 13 23 +3 39 kootenay ice (WHL)
Alexandre Giroux   29 33 10 20 30 -3 36 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Curtis Hamilton   19 31 15 27 42 +27 6 saskatoon blades (whl)
Teemu Hartikainen   20 33 9 8 17 -10 21 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kellen Jones   20 18 4 5 9 N/A 25 quinnipiac university (ecac)
Milan Kytnar   21 32 2 7 9 -7 8 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Anton Lander   19 30 7 7 14 N/A 26 timra ik (sel)
Matt Marquardt   23 22 2 3 5 -3 6 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan Martindale   18 33 19 29 48 +28 18 ottawa 67's (ohl)
Brad Moran   31 33 11 17 28 +2 14 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan O'Marra *
23 22 1 13 14 +11 23 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Linus Omark  *
23 26 13 13 26 +6 28 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ben Ondrus   28 33 3 7 10 -4 34 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kristians Pelss   18 29 4 9 13 +7 17 edmonton oil kings
Tyler Pitlick   19 32 15 21 36 +2 21 medicine hat tigets (whl)
Toni Rajala   19 22 6 6 12 N/A 4 ilves tampere (fnl)
Liam Reddox   24 33 15 12 27 +11 8 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Gregory Stewart   24 28 3 2 5 -2 49 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Chris Vande Velde   23 32 5 4 9 -8 20 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Name Age GP G A PTS +/- PIM Team
Shawn Belle 
25 30 3 16 19 -11 41 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jordan Bendfeld   22 7 0 0 0 +2 18 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Kyle Bigos   21 15 0 4 4 N/A 42 merrimack college (h-east)
Jeremie Blain   18 9 0 7 7 N/A 10 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)
Taylor Chorney   23 33 2 10 12 +2 16 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Brandon Davidson   19 37 5 24 29 -4 32 regina pats (whl)
Troy Hesketh   19 22 0 0 0 -12 30 sioux city musketeers (ushl)
Martin Marincin   18 33 10 25 35 +6 37 prince george cougars (whl)
Johan Motin   21 27 1 3 4 -8 28 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Richard Petiot   28 19 0 4 4 +7 12 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jeff Petry *
23 32 7 14 21 -7 18 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Alex Plante   21 31 1 5 6 +1 68 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Name Age GP W L T SO GAA PCT Team
Tyler Bunz   18 25 16 7 2 0 2.49 .915 medicine hat tigers (whl)
Martin Gerber
36 20 11 7 2 0 2.45 .917 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Bryan Pitton   22 3 1 1 0 0 3.39 .894 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Olivier Roy   19 21 12 9 0 0 2.95 .905 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)
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