WINNIPEG, MB. - Tyler Brennan is a great young goaltender, but he’s still just a kid. And because he’s a kid, he’ll do dumb things from time-to-time.
If you ask him his most embarrassing moment as a hockey player, he doesn’t have to tax his memory much.
“It was just a couple of weekends ago,” he said, laughing. “I stepped on the ice in Victoria with no blades in (my skates) and just wiped out on the ice. I pulled the blades out to put my other blades in and I never put them back in. And I went out, stepped on my skates and just fell. It was pretty embarrassing. I had to go back in and put the blades in.”
RHA Nationals Elite Bantam Head Coach Brad Purdie learned last year that you have to cut these guys some slack. They’re kids, they’ll surprise you.
But when it comes to Tyler Brennan standing between the pipes, Purdie’s only surprise is how much better he gets in the RHA program every single day.
Of course, he’s only 14-years-old but he’s already 6-foot-3 and he has a lot of tools in the box.
“Tyler is a really good kid, somebody that made us very excited when the family made the decision to join our program” Purdie said. “He’s got the one thing you can’t teach and that’s size. He’s a big goalie and I think for players at this age, and I would assume going forward, when a shooter looks up and sees a big goalie and there is not a lot to shoot at, it plays with your mind. Players then start trying to pick spots instead of just shooting the puck and there really isn’t a lot to shoot at. That really plays into the goalie’s advantage and he learns even more how to use his body and his size and doesn’t give away a lot of the net.
“He’s been working a lot with Marty (former WHL goalie Brett Martyniuk) and he’s getting better and he gives us a chance to win every time he goes in the net. That’s all you can ask from a goalie. Both of our goalies have been really good for us (Brennan and Jaxson Taupert from Moose Jaw) and they have a strong team in front of them, but there are always break downs and they’ve both been really good for us.”
Brennan is a goalie with a load of upside. He loves to play. His older brother, Ryan, who plays defense for the City Midget Monarchs, is a good player and he’s the youngest member of a hockey family. Dad Jared and mom Jenny, are at every game and they combine to be Tyler’s main support system. He might be 6-foot-3 with plenty of quickness and skill, but you can’t replace family support.
Nor can you replace the support you get from being in a full-time hockey program like the one offered by RHA. Brennan is on the ice every day, working with a goalie coach and getting better as each session goes by.
“It’s great here, I get lots of opportunity to play,” Tyler said. “We have good coaching and good trainers both on-ice and off-ice. I’ve learned so much and it’s the simple things, rebound-control, movement, edge-work. Those types of things. It’s been great.”
Nobody ever starts out to become a goaltender and Tyler was no different. Like so many kids, he started skating at five, playing hockey at six and then at seven, he had an opportunity.
“We needed a goalie one game,” said Tyler, whose favorite NHL team is the Arizona Coyotes and his favorite NHL player is Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals. “I just thought I’d try it out and I liked it. It was really good. So I split that season with another guy and at eight-years-old I went full time.
“My parents had no problem with me becoming a goalie. My mom was a ringette goalie and my uncle was a goalie so it kind of ran in the family a little bit. So when I decided to give it a shot, my dad had no problem with it. And, besides, I liked it so I don’t think he was going to say no.
“It’s just great to have my family behind me.”
Brennan played his first game in goal with the Fort Garry Flyers, latched on to the position and has never left the net. He played a couple of seasons with the Twins organization as a Peewee and then played a year with Monarchs before joining the Nationals. This being his WHL Bantam Draft year, it was a big, important decision.
“I had heard from friends that the coaching was really good here and that the off-ice training was good and they said the schooling was good, too so I decided to try it,” he said. “I would have been going to my middle school for another year and then Vincent Massey. But now I’m in Grade 9 at Shaftesbury and I like it. It’s a great school.
“I think being here has really helped me and if I keep progressing and getting better, I hope to be drafted. My size is a big advantage and my ability to move really well. And my positioning with my size makes it hard for people to score.”
His coach certainly agrees.
“He’s mature and he’s a really good teammate,” said Purdie. “He’s a kid that everybody likes. From the people we’ve talked to, his chances of getting drafted are really good. There is still a lot of hockey to be played between now and then, but he’s a big goaltender ad people tend to lean toward big goalies. I like his chances.”
Scott Taylor, The Manitoba Post
Photos by Bruce Fedyck
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