Though he may eye the open skies, Tylan Stephens will have to settle for much slower speeds on the ice. The former Western Hockey League player has joined the Dinos men's hockey team for the 2009-10 season. A native of Calgary, Stephens chose to pursue his academic career despite having another year of eligibility in the WHL.
Dinos head coach Mark Howell says that living at home comes with a number of benefits for Stephens. The comfort and support network will help him when it comes to managing his studies and hockey.
"There is a lot of mentality in the WHL that if you are good at hockey that is what you should do," says Stephens. "I wanted to challenge the other side of that fence."
The fence between athletics and academics that is. The 5-foot-11 centre begins the challenge as he enters his first year of studies, attempting to earn his Bachelor of Commerce from the Haskayne School of Business. Following his degree, Stephens has ambitions to take flight.
"I've wanted to be a fighter pilot with the Canadian Military for a long time now," admits Stephens.
Last season, he tallied 30 goals and 27 assists with the Kootenay Ice. Howell sees him bringing not only his offensive talent to the team, but also his defensive play.
"Tylan is a well-rounded player, who can contribute offensively and defensively," says Howell. "Of course, there will be a learning curve that he will have to adjust to, but he should be fine."
Back in Cranbrook with the Ice, Stephens left an unforgettable mark on the small town. Thanking his billet family in a unique fashion, he made a donation to the regional hospital foundation. His donation helped the East Kootenay Regional Hospital purchase a much-needed wheelchair.
Hockey player, philanthropist, student and future pilot, Tylan Stephens seems to be on the right path in life. Hopefully his experiences, both on and off the ice, will help the Dinos in their quest for a much-improved 2009-10 season after they missed the playoffs last year.
"I am really excited for the playoff run," says Stephens. "The older guys, the ones who have been there, are inspiring me to want to make it there."