Ryan Tyson is certainly no stranger to the Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships.
Now, he’s just seeing the tournament through a different lens.
After twice partaking in the event as a member of the Valley Forge Minutemen, and an additional time playing with Team Comcast program, Tyson is now behind the bench leading the same youth organization he grew up playing with.
By giving back, Tyson has coached the team for two years now, his life as it pertains to Nationals has come full circle.
The USA Hockey National Championships have certainly grown since the last time he attended back in 2008.
“The stage is different,” Tyson relayed. “Back when I was playing it was a big deal, but this…It’s a great rink, a great venue. There’s a lot more focus now, there’s so many teams, so many players and the areas that the players come from has grown significantly. USA Hockey has really grown and that’s why we’re seeing more players in college and playing professional.”
Tyson is thrilled to be back immersed in the exciting atmosphere of the event, noting he wouldn’t be here if not for the outstanding group of young men he’s had the opportunity to lead, as well as his fellow coaches Jim Sutow and John Gevard.
Prior to latching on with Valley Forge, the Harleysville, Pa., native went on to play at the University of Connecticut for four seasons. The forward appeared in 123 games over his college career, scoring 26 points.
Now back with the Minutemen, the Oaks, Pa., based group is seeded 15th in the Youth Tier I 14U event after winning the Atlantic District Championship. They fell to the No. 2 seed Florida Alliance 3-2 in overtime on the first day of Nationals before losing to Honeybaked 4-1 in a hard-fought contest on the second day.
Still, Tyson has managed to keep the group, a small, feisty and fast unit, afloat and is encouraging them to take in the experience that this event radiates. At the 14U level, this is often the first time that many of these players are participating in a National Championship event.
“It’s their first time here, so they’re going to grow mentally and emotionally and learn what it takes to be one of the better teams in the country,” Tyson said.
The fact that Tyson has been in each of his players skates on this stage, three times nonetheless, allows him to apply a unique perspective when addressing his group.
“I was fortunate to play in it three times, so to put it in perspective it’s a different viewpoint from behind the bench,” Tyson conveyed. “It’s a lot more gratifying to develop these kids. For them to get this opportunity and play against the top teams in the country, it’s a unique experience that may not happen again. That’s been my message.
“Enjoy the moment, seize the moment. Every team is great here and you’re one of the great teams, you can compete with anyone in the country at any giving point in time. You’ve worked your tail off to get here, and now it’s paid off and we’re here. Most importantly have fun, play as a team. Believe in yourself and believe in each other and good things happen.”