While most young Canadian hockey players spent the bulk of their childhood dreaming up innovative ways to score a goal, Haliburton County Huskies netminder Tyler Hodges was instead obsessed with keeping pucks out of the net.
The 17-year-old goaltender has made quite the impression during his debut season in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL). Through 13 games with the Dogs, he’s tallied 10 wins, one overtime loss and two regulation defeats, posting a league-leading goals against average of 1.40 and a save percentage of .950.
Splitting the crease this season with veteran goalie Aidan Spooner, Hodges believes Haliburton County is the perfect spot for him to hone his craft and make a name for himself on the junior circuit.
“I really couldn’t ask for a better place to play my hockey,” Hodges told The Highlander. “As a younger guy, getting to surround myself with some of guys we have in our locker room has taught me a lot about being a leader, how to elevate my game and maintain my focus and the mental aspect of the game.”
While this is Hodges’ first full season with the Dogs, he was in and around the team last year as an affiliate player. He earned that role after attending the team’s prospect camp in summer 2021, catching the eye of head coach and general manager Ryan Ramsay.
He spent most of the year between the pipes for the York Simcoe Express U18 AAA team, appearing in 14 regular season games and five playoff tilts. He would sometimes travel up to the Highlands to participate in practices and was rewarded with a first start against the North York Rangers Oct. 10, 2021 – backstopping the hometown team to a 3-1 win.
“I had never felt so alive on the ice. It was a road game and was just the most amazing experience. I loved everything about it,” Hodges said. “I knew then that I had to do whatever I took to sort of earn my spot and try and get some more game time.”
He practiced hard throughout the summer and was impressive during training camp, earning the backup goalie spot for this year. He’s since taken that opportunity and ran with it, standing out as one of the league’s best goaltenders through the first half of the season. He was selected to play for Team Jake Evans in the OJHL InStat Top Prospects Game Jan. 14 in Collingwood.
Hodges grew up idolising Minnesota Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and hopes to one day follow in his footsteps and make it to the big leagues. In the short-term, though, he wants to do his part to help bring a championship to Haliburton County – a place he’s come to call home.
“My parents bought a cottage up here last summer, so we’ve been spending all of our time up here. It would be incredible to win with the Huskies. This is a great hockey community, and I love playing up here… getting to win here would be super special.”