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Jarry's summer filled with farming and focus

His hard-working approach has resulted in his best season yet

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Tristan Jarry has always been an early riser.

He gets that from his parents, Dave and Michelle, who own a grocery store called Jarry's Market in South Delta, British Columbia - which is about a 25-minute drive from where they live in North Delta. 

When Tristan was growing up, he usually had hockey practice at 7 a.m. before school began at 8:30 a.m. He would wake up at 5 a.m. so his dad could drop him off at the bus stop at 5:30 a.m. on his way to work. 

If Tristan didn't have hockey practice, since the family business was just 10 minutes away from school, he would join his parents at the store stocking shelves from 5-8 a.m. before heading to class.

That trait has served Jarry well on the 60-acre barley farm that he bought three years ago outside of a town called Sherwood Park, Alberta, which is about 30 minutes from Edmonton. During a typical day in the offseason, Jarry tries to get all of his on-ice training and workouts done at 7 or 8 in the morning. 

"After that, it's basically just fooling around and tinkering on the farm," Jarry said.

Not only does Jarry like to get up early; he has trouble sitting still and always likes to be doing something, so having a farm has turned out to be the perfect way for the 24-year-old to stay busy.

His girlfriend joked that they're working from the second he gets home until 1 in the morning, with their chores including moving dirt, lifting wood and cement blocks, rolling barbed wire, pulling fence posts, turning the fields once a month and cutting the grass.

That first summer in 2016, cutting the grass was the hardest task, because not only is Jarry "allergic to everything" - he did all two acres that needed to be cut by push mower. He quickly learned his lesson and has since gotten a big red tractor - nicknamed the Ferrari - to help with working the land.

"It goes about seven miles an hour and it's got no brakes, which is standard," Jarry said. "So, you put it in neutral to stop. There's a lot of open field we swerve around."

Tweet from @penguins: Farm photos, courtesy of @tjarry35. pic.twitter.com/ZU1mKDZOG7

While Jarry didn't have any previous experience as a farmer, he gets plenty of help from his neighbor, Bob Robertson.

"We live side by side," Jarry said. "It's like a mile between each house."

Bob is 75 years old and on his second heart, but still loves coming over to talk to Tristan about his 10 grandkids and to give him pointers on doing things around the farm. The two of them cut a hole in the fence that separates their farms, and each day, Bob will take care of his crop - this year, he did peas - before coming over to chat and help Tristan with the barley.

"His wife Barb yells at him for coming over because he's literally over every day," Jarry laughed. "He drives his utility vehicle from his house to my house and he'll just sit there and talk."

When it comes time to work, this past summer, Bob was a particularly big help when it came to taking the fencing down.

"I think he spent all afternoon with me one day pulling fence posts," Jarry said.

Growing up, Jarry dreamed of being a hockey player, not a farmer. But, as he put it, he liked the idea of living away from everyone and being on his own. So when Jarry was ready to buy some land, he really only had one requirement.

"I had to have a paved road," Jarry said.

He eventually found the perfect parcel of land with that paved road for his three pickup trucks - including a classic sky-blue one - but there was a catch. It was a cattle farm, which would have been too much maintenance for Jarry considering that he's only there during the summers. 

So the decision was made to turn the cattle farm into a barley farm, since the crop is cheap to plant, it doesn't need to be fertilized since it's all naturally grown and isn't hard to maintain. Once the crop has been farmed, it gets cut and sold at auction.

In addition, the house itself also wasn't quite what he wanted, so Jarry has been slowly building a house of his own. He constructed the garage this past summer, and plans to start putting up the house itself next summer. 

Jarry loves it out there, as he really is living away from everyone and being on his own, just like he always wanted. He joked that he didn't even have cell phone service the first summer, and when Penguins goaltending coach Mike Buckley would call him, he wouldn't see it for a week. 

Jarry could see himself working the farm full-time when he retires, if he doesn't end up moving back to where his parents live. But in the meantime, he's more focused on his real full-time job - taking the same hard-working approach to hockey that he does to farming, particularly this past summer.

"He knew it was an important year for him," Buckley said. "I think last year was a really good wake-up call for him when someone kind of leapfrogged him, and so he jumped in the driver's seat this summer and really worked hard."

It paid off, as Jarry went from being the third goalie on the depth chart to getting named to his first All-Star Game this past weekend. Jarry leads the NHL with a .929 save percentage while his 2.16 goals-against average ranks second. He recorded a franchise-record shutout streak of 177:15 and has a career-high 16 wins thus far.

"This is a contract year for me, so I have to prove that I'm still able to do it and able to keep going," Jarry said. "I guess it was just proving to myself also that I could still put in the work and be able to do it at a high level. So, I think that was a big thing for me, just pushing myself and pushing myself to be better every day."

After playing the majority of the 2015-16 and '16-17 seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, Jarry saw his first extended NHL action with Pittsburgh in '17-18 while backing up Matt Murray. He appeared in 26 games and led all rookie netminders with 14 wins in 23 starts.

Jarry seemed well on his way to realizing his potential, which - as then-assistant director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton said after trading up to take him in the second round (44th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft - was a potential starting goalie. 

But Casey DeSmith ended up winning the backup job to Murray for the 2018-19 season, which meant Jarry again returned to WBS for the majority of the year - appearing in just two games with Pittsburgh. To Jarry's credit, he points to that year as a huge reason for his current success in the NHL.

"I think just having a consistent year in the American League helped me a lot," he said. "Just being able to keep putting up numbers and playing every night, that helped my game grow and helped me mature as a player."

Jarry's overall maturity might be the biggest catalyst, as he's gotten a much better understanding of what it takes to be a good pro and Buckley said he became comfortable in his own skin and within his own game.

"I think maturity is a huge thing," Buckley said. "We never gave up on that. We just gave him more time to turn into that. Whereas Matt just barged through the door, Tristan kind of wandered in."

That describes Jarry's personality so well, as he's a quiet kid who tends to be, as DeSmith put it, "calm, cool, and collected - just casual 'Jars.'" 

Which is a great mindset for a goalie in terms of being able to reset and refocus after allowing a goal, but as Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan has said, the discussion he used to have with Jarry all the time is that there's a fine line between poise and nonchalance.

"That's part of Tristan's personality, where we want him to be poised but we certainly don't want him to be nonchalant," Sullivan said in 2018. "That's an aspect of his game where we're trying to help him grow, is just bringing that certain level of intensity to his approach every day that's going to help him continue being the goaltender we all think he's capable of becoming."

And he's done that, particularly when it comes to his practice habits. That was the biggest area of his game Jarry worked on this summer - when he wasn't turning the barley fields or cutting the grass - and he's reaping the rewards now.

"It's taken him a long time to really find the value in every drill in practice," Buckley said. "Oftentimes, he'd find what didn't bring him any value, take some time off and not give 100 percent in those aspects. But now that he's recognized that, the value in that and how much better that's made him, it's been really good."

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