Stothers takes his final strides
Tyler Stothers wore the ‘C’ on his sweater for two consecutive seasons as the Laurier captain
Tyler Stothers laced up his skates for the last time as a Golden Hawk on Saturday.
The fourth-year Wilfrid Laurier University men’s hockey team captain’s final season yielded incredible results with 17 goals — the most of any Laurier hockey player since Paul Bradley’s effort in 2009.
Tyler had the team primed to make one final push for the playoffs after a tremendous turnaround on the season.
“I think a lot of this has to do with the guys coming together,” Stothers said.
“I think we just kind of accepted our roles and kind of came together as a team.”
However the season ended abruptly with a heartbreaking loss to Lakehead Saturday. Stothers now is able to reflect on his season and his time as the Laurier men’s hockey captain.
According to Stothers, his output this season was a career highlight.
“Personally the 17 goals is probably my biggest personal accomplishment,” he said.
Taking the school record for points in a season leaves footprints and ripples on the program, and an impact on the history books.
“Well I hope my legacy here was just hard work. I just love the team, I loved every minute here,” Stothers said. “I hope I left the program better than when I came.”
Stothers’ unique talent almost did not end up on this side of the country to play post-secondary hockey, let alone in Waterloo. An unlikely turn of events ended up found him wearing the Golden Hawk on his chest.
“I was playing Junior A and I was getting pretty heavily recruited to play NCAA and I had a few scholarship offers. I was actually verbally committed to Alabama Huntsville … for whatever reason my heart wasn’t in it,” he said.
Stothers’ focus then slowly shifted west of Toronto.
“Coach [Greg Puhalski] had reached out to me earlier in the year and I had kind of brushed him off because I thought I was going down south,” he said.
“It was pretty late that I actually decided that I was going to come to Laurier in September. I reached out to him and he welcomed me with open arms,” he said.
Stothers has hockey running through his veins. His uncle, Mike Stothers, is a former NHL player who played for the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
“When you’re surrounded by hockey minds — and my whole family is kind of hockey-oriented — I’ve been fortunate enough that everyone has an impact,” he said.
“My uncle specifically, he is a big man with a strong personality. He doesn’t talk too much but when he does you listen.”
Often the hard work, tough nose and grinding lifestyle goes unnoticed or falls on deaf ears, as student athletes often play to empty stands.
“People don’t realize I guess how good the hockey is and how competitive it is. I mean obviously everyone has their own life [and] there’s not a whole lot of time,” said Stothers.
According to Stothers, goal totals and rewards are a nice thing to have in the end, but the ability to hold your head high and know you did your job is something has held in high regard during his time here.
“Just times you really felt you really stepped up … I remember we beat Western, my second year … to be the one that ended Western’s win streak. I remember it was just a fantastic feeling.”
When the departing captain looks back at his hockey career at Laurier, it’s with fondness and the same enthusiasm as when he started his career for the Golden Hawks. 102 games, 43 goals and 45 assists later, Stothers hangs up his skates.
“I could never give back everything I have gained from this place,” he said.