Rookie sensation Tyler Fassl is a Golden Hawk highlight this season

Photo by Eva Ou

When Wilfrid Laurier University’s men’s hockey team lost both of their veteran goalies over the past summer, the responsibility of tending the twine was thrust upon two rookies.

In game one of the 2018-19 season, one of those two rookie goalies, Jacob Standen, was hurt after just eight minutes of play with a season-ending injury.

That left fellow rookie, Tyler Fassl, as the sole bearer of the workload in net.

“Obviously when Standen went down, it was a blow to the team,” Fassl said. “He was a good locker room guy and we didn’t want to see that happen to him.”

“Most rookies don’t get [this type of] opportunity to start every game. It was kind of fortunate for me to get that.”

The Golden Hawks had one of the most experienced tandems in net last season, with Chris Festarini and Colin Furlong having a combined 149 OHL games and 95 OUA games on their resumes.

It was always going to be tough for Laurier to make up for the veteran presence at goalie that they were losing, but Fassl has done a formidable job in the role so far.

“On a personal level, I’ve been happy with how I’ve been playing. After we got off to a rough start, we buckled down and started working harder in practice and from there, it’s made my life easier.”

“My defensemen are keeping shots to the outside, so I just have had to focus mostly on rebound control and trying to keep the guys in the game.”

As the playoffs approach, new challenges are set to emerge for the rookie varsity athlete. Fassl will undoubtedly look back on his childhood dreams in hockey as extra motivation to push through the difficulties at hand.

Fassl, who spent the last two seasons playing Junior A for the Toronto Patriots in the OJHL, has posted a .918 save percentage and 2.50 goals against average in 19 contests this year. That is good enough for the eleventh and twelfth overall ranking respectively amongst OUA goalies.

The transition from Junior A to the university circuit can often times be difficult for players, as they go from matching up against mostly 18 and 19-year-olds to some teams in the OUA dressing players in their mid-20s.

“I’ve noticed in the OUA, that every line on every team is pretty deep and pretty strong, so you’ve always got to be focussed no matter what. Before in the OJHL, you could kind of get away with the last two lines [being] not as strong as the top two.”

Fassl also added that he has noticed that “the pace of the game is a little quicker, so you just got to be prepared for anything in this league.”

Despite the success so far this season, Fassl isn’t just content with holding steady the rest of the way.

“I would love to get my save percentage over .920 and to end the year on a big win streak, to propel us into a better playoff seeding.”

As Laurier enters the final few weeks of the regular season tied for fifth in a tight OUA West conference, Fassl has a clear focus on the task at hand.

“It’s all about the team and how high up I can help get [us] seeded for playoffs, so that we can have a better first round matchup.”

“I know that if we get clicking towards the end of the season here, that we can take that momentum into the playoffs and have a long playoff push.”

As the playoffs approach, new challenges are set to emerge for the rookie varsity athlete. Fassl will undoubtedly look back on his childhood dreams in hockey as extra motivation to push through the difficulties at hand.

“I would love to play pro if the opportunity arises. That’s been my goal since I was four-years-old growing up. Every kid’s dream is to play in the NHL, so if you can keep following that dream, that’s obviously the number one [motivator].”

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