With a dominating physical size and a dogged determination, 15-year-old defenceman Tyrel Bauer has made a lasting impact with the CFR Chemical Bisons.
Although he isn’t lighting up the scoreboard in his first season in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League (AMHL), the Cochranite has nine points (3g, 6a) in 25 games this season, and has been a reliable stay-at-home defenceman in his rookie campaign with the team.
“I know my role is not going to be a points guy, it’s going to be just a very solid defender, who’s good in the (defensive) zone, makes good breakout passes and contributes offence from the point,” Bauer said. “I’m contributing, but I’m always striving to be better, so I always think I could do more every game.”
Going straight from major bantam to the highest level possible in the AMHL at just 15 years old is a major accomplishment, but something Bauer was determined to do.
Standing at about 6’2” and already starting to fill out his frame, Bauer has the size needed to compete among older and more experienced athletes.
He said he has always been a bigger kid and built his game around his large frame.
“You’ve got to shape your game around who you are…it turned me into a stay-at-home, big, shutdown defenceman,” Bauer said.
On a relatively inexperienced Bisons team, Bauer has had to step into a key role on the point, but he hasn’t let the pressure of that get to him. He said he looked to fellow defenceman Cayde Augustine, who was in a similar position last year as a 15-year-old, for advice and has learned a lot from the lone-returnee to the Bisons this season.
“I’ve talked to Cayde about what it was like being in the league, being a younger player,” Bauer said. “He said it’s a tougher season, but you have to persevere and stay motivated.”
Bauer’s time in the AMHL may not be as long as some would expect; the defenceman already has a major goal in mind for the 2018-19 season –playing in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
Taken in the second round (41st) of the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft by the Seattle Thunderbirds, Bauer is a highly-touted prospect for the defending WHL Champions and has already gotten a bit of experience with the team appearing in one game this season as a call up.
Although the Thunderbirds has seen a lot of what made it league champion depart this season, Bauer said he has noticed the winning culture is still intact and doesn’t see it leaving when he is eligible to make the team as a full-time player next season.
“(Seattle) is a great city and organization, I’m excited to be a T-Bird,” Bauer said. “The culture of this team is fantastic. The coaches and players have done a good job making (new) players feel welcome.
“There is a high expectation on the players to hold themselves to their abilities and standards, and conduct themselves like professionals. This acts as great motivation to make me want to crack the squad next year.”