Local hockey player takes on second season with SAIT
The SAIT Trojans men’s hockey team is one of the most storied organizations in Alberta. After nearly 50 years in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), the team has collected 11 league titles, two Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) titles and is led by one of the most respected coaches in hockey.
All of the above is why Airdrie’s Corey Tyrell wanted to be a part of such an esteemed squad.
The 22-year-old hockey player is in his second season with the Trojans, which is tied with NAIT for the top spot in the ACAC, having lost only one game in the first two months of the season.
“We’ve been working well together as a team,” Tyrell said. “Physicality is a big part of our game and when we play physical and execute our game plan, we have a lot of success.”
The Trojans have shot up the standings thanks to a strong start for the team in the first half of the season, but the eight games he’s played have been good for Tyrell individually. His point tally stands at four goals and two assists and he’s on pace to best the 10 points he recorded in his rookie season thanks to increased ice time and the opportunities he’s getting to play on the Trojans’s special teams.
Last season, the ACAC was the latest stop on a tour of Western Canadian hockey leagues for Tyrell. Since 2004, he’s played six different teams in as many leagues, starting with the Airdrie Xtreme.
He spent two seasons with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars before stints in the Alberta and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey Leagues. Each new league meant a step up in the level of competition and the ACAC was no exception.
“It’s a lot different,” Tyrell said of the university level play. “All the guys are older, bigger and stronger and it’s a higher level than Junior A.”
Coming in as a rookie, he took the opportunity to play at the collegiate level and grow as a player when he returned to the team this season.
“My biggest downfall has always been confidence in myself,” he said. “I learned in my first year to always be positive and to trust myself and my skills. It’s been working well for me so far.”
Tyrell and the Trojans have some unfinished business to attend to this season. In last year’s playoffs, they were edged out in the ACAC semi-finals 3-1 by the Augustana Vikings, who went on to win the league championship. In Tyrell’s – and the team’s – eyes, it was the team who should’ve been in the finals. Only eight players from last year’s team returned to the roster this season, but those eight have helped lead a relatively young team back into contention and in its bid for the Trojans’ 12th ACAC title.
“It was a lot of motivation,” Tyrell said. “It hit everyone hard losing in the semis and it was a series we could’ve and should’ve won. It’s motivation to step our game up and try for the championship this year. It’s our goal every year to go to the finals and win.
“We have to stick together as a team, play physical and always be focused.”