TRURO, N.S. – With his team clinging to a one-goal lead in the final stages of the third period last Saturday, it came as no surprise to see No. 6 on the ice for the Truro Bearcats.
It’s been a familiar role for shutdown blueliner Tyler Pyke, and one he has embraced during three seasons with the Maritime Junior Hockey League club.
“When the game’s on the line, especially defending the lead, he’s gonna be out there,” said Bearcats coach Shawn Evans. “He’s a warrior.”
On this night, Pyke performed his defensive duties to a T and helped stave off the Yarmouth Mariners in the late going to lock down a 1-0 victory in a closely contested playoff battle.
“Heart and soul guy,” Evans said of Pyke, an assistant captain. “He plays for the team first.”
Pyke will finish his junior hockey career this season. A native of Spryfield, the six-foot-two, 190-pound defenceman arrived in Truro for the 2015 season after playing midget for the Newbridge Gladiators. He was taken by the Bearcats in the fourth round of the 2014 draft.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to be on,” said Pyke, who won a MHL championship with the Bearcats last season. “This is exactly where I want to be. I think this is the best organization in the league. It’s the most professional, I just can’t say enough good things about it, really.”
Pyke, who turns 21 next month, chipped in three goals and 21 points during the regular season, however, his real value is in his defensive play. Evans said he can skate, play physical and he understands how to win.
“When Tyler keeps his game simple and tries not to do too much offensively and takes care of the D zone first, he’s really effective.
“He’s very vocal on the bench,” he added. “No matter what the score is he’s urging the guys to keep playing; play right to the end and show no weakness.”
While in Truro, Pyke has completed a two-year criminal justice program, upgraded his high school marks and formed many friendships that will last a lifetime. Next year he plans to attend university, and said leaving the Hubtown and moving on to the next stage of his life will be bittersweet.
“It’s definitely going to be sad,” he said. “I came here fresh out of high school, so I definitely grew here in Truro and it’s going to be a part of me. I’m always going to remember this place.”
Pyke said he has a great support system along the way. Family members, including his grandparents, gather regularly to watch the Bearcats play on HockeyTV, while his mom can often be seen nervously pacing at the RECC during home games.
“They love it just as much as me and I think they’re gonna be more sad when the hockey season ends than me,” smiled Pyke. “They’re definitely the reason I’m playing out there. I’ve always got them with me.”
Pyke and his teammates will hit the ice Wednesday for Game 4 in their MHL divisional semifinal series against the Mariners. Start time at the RECC is 7 p.m. Yarmouth leads the best-of-seven affair 2-1.
Did you know?
Tyler Pyke’s sister Erika played five years of CIS hockey for the McGill Martlets.
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Truro vs. Yarmouth
(Mariners lead best of seven series 2-1)
Truro 0 at Yarmouth 2
Yarmouth 0 at Truro 1
Truro 2 at Yarmouth 3 (OT)
Yarmouth at Truro, 7 p.m.
Truro at Yarmouth, 7 p.m.
Yarmouth at Truro, 7 p.m.**
Truro at Yarmouth, 7 p.m.**