On the Prince George Cougars, it quickly becomes evident that Dana Tyrell is a high-energy player. At 5’11 and a solid 180 pounds, he is an explosive skater who surprises opponents with his strength. Tyrell, a native of Airdrie, Alberta, will celebrate his 18th birthday in mid-April.
“For a kid of his stature physically, he knows what it’s all about around here and is one of the most committed players we’ve seen here in some time,” said Cougars general manager, Dallas Thompson.
Tyrell joined the Cougars last season and delivered a solid rookie campaign as a 16-year-old. He is ranked eighth among WHL skaters in the Central Scouting Service preliminary rankings for the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. With the draft in mind, Thompson is pleased to see the speedy forward off to a good start this year.
“He’s been our most consistent forward out of the gate,” Thompson confirmed. “At 17, he is playing a lot in all situations here and it’s nice to see him having some success around the net because he works hard. It’s the kind of thing you want all your guys to do.”
Hard work seems nothing more than routine for Tyrell. A typical offseason day included a trip to the gym before school, back to the gym after school and usually at home resting by 8:00 or 9:00pm. At the conclusion of the 2005-06 season, Tyrell was the Cougars’ Scholastic Player of the Year.
Prince George acquired Tyrell during the WHL’s 2004 Bantam Draft, selecting the speedy forward in the fifth round, 97th overall. It was a lucrative draft for Prince George as the club also landed defensemen Lance Redden and Chris Vanduynhoven, along with forward Prab Rai. All are eligible for the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and are regulars in the Cougars lineup.
“That was a very good draft for us,” Thompson agreed. “And we moved our first rounder, Ryan Kerr (eligible 2007), to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for Kalvin Sagert and Jesse Dudas (CBJ), a couple defensemen who are doing a good job for us.”
Thompson is very happy with Tyrell’s development.
“I think his success has been a pleasant surprise, I’m not sure we thought he’d be this far along,” Thomspon said. “He played a lot as a 16-year-old and sometimes when a player comes back after that at 17, they think it gets easier when it actually gets a little tougher. But he’s definitely welcomed the challenge.”
Moving forward this season, Thompson is confident Tyrell can deliver for the Cougars, a team expected to challenge the upper echelon WHL’s teams down the stretch.
“We expect to see more of the same from Dana, just to be consistent for us. He works hard and we certainly don’t have to worry about whether he’s going to show up every night.”
Last season, Tyrell played in 69 games, scoring seven goals and 11 assists. Through 25 games this year, he has scored nine goals and added 12 assists, tying him with veteran Eric Hunter (NYR) for the team lead in scoring.
Hockey’s Future spoke with Tyrell after a convincing 7-3 win over the Kelowna Rockets. Tyrell, the game’s third star, chipped in with a goal and two assists. The game was the first of a stretch that includes four straight on the road and a total of seven games in 10 nights.
HF: Your impressions of the game tonight?
DT: Tonite was definitely a great night because we really got our lines going. All our lines were going hard. My line with Nick Drazenovic (STL) and Eric Hunter (NYR) definitely got the scoring. That’s important leading into this road trip.
HF: You’re leading the team in scoring this season. Any thoughts on your production?
DT: I think it’s an honor anytime you are the top scorer on any team. The coaches are giving me the opportunities and obviously I’m playing with good players.
HF: How would you describe your style of play?
DT: Every shift I go out and try to be the best player out there. I have to be the hardest working player on the ice. That’s a really big key to my game because I believe that hard work pays off.
HF: The team has struggled so far this season and you’ve been through a coaching change. How has the team responded?
DT: We went through a lot of adversity already this season but I think we are going to start to turn things around. In a few of our last games, we’ve just been dominating and I think it’s going to lead into a pretty good year for us.
HF: Where did you play your bantam and midget hockey?
DT: I played two years in bantam for the Airdrie Extreme near Calgary. Then I played one year of midget with the UFA Bisons in Strathmore, Alberta where Doug Thurston was the coach.
HF: How would you describe the move from midget to junior hockey?
DT: Well, it was tough jump, but I felt it was needed. And it definitely helped when the coaches kept giving me the ice time. That does nothing but bring confidence to my game and when I get the puck now, I think my confidence shows. The points and everything just come together with confidence and hard work.
HF: After the bantam draft, do you recall what your feelings were on playing in Prince George?
DT: It was a tough decision for me because I didn’t know at the time what route I wanted to go. When I was drafted by Prince George, I was just really happy to have been drafted into the WHL. I made my decision about a year later and the best decision I have ever made.
HF: What made the decision difficult?
DT: I was also looking at playing junior A. I had signed with the Canmore Eagles (AJHL) and that actually ended up being a backup plan.
HF: How do you feel you played last year, during your rookie season?
DT: The biggest challenge last season was really just getting used to the speed of the game. This year, it seems a lot easier and I attribute that to playing with better players and getting more ice time.
HF: What keeps you busy off the ice, when hockey is not the priority?
DT: Well, I just love watching movies and hanging out with my friends. I enjoy playing lacrosse, too.
HF: Favorite movie?
DT: The DaVinci Code.
Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.