For most hockey players across Canada, playing in one national championship is a chance of a lifetime.
If that is the case, Tyler Gordon now has enough for three lifetimes.
For the third time in four years, Gordon is taking part in a Hockey Canada national championship, this time as a member of the Aurora Tigers at the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup in Prince George, BC.
This is, however, Gordon’s first opportunity to take part as a member of a regional champion – the 21-year-old goaltender appeared at two previous championships as a member of the host team.
“They’ve all been great experiences,” Gordon said this week between games at the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup. “Not many guys get to experience one, so to be a part of three is pretty special.”
Gordon’s first shot at a national championship came in 2004, as a member of the Kenora Stars, who hosted the National Midget Championship. Gordon’s Stars reached the bronze medal game on home ice, but fell 5-2 to the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs.
Two years later he was between the pipes for the Streetsville Derbys as they hosted the 2006 RBC Royal Bank Cup. Once again he reached the semi-final, and once again came up just one game short of the national final, dropping a tight 2-1 decision to the Yorkton Terriers.
Within a week of the end of the 2006 National Junior A Championship Gordon was on the move, as he saw his rights sold to Aurora for the 2006-07 season.
“The Derbys were sold not long after the RBC, and I met with Jerome shortly after that,” Gordon says. “We had a good talk, and we both wanted me to be here (in Aurora). It was a good fit.”
The Hudson, ON native helped the Tigers to one of the best records in Canada in the regular season – 44-4-1 – and finished second in the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League in save percentage (.932) and third in goals against average (2.00).
Despite his sparkling numbers, Gordon is quick to heap praise on his teammates, who were one of the OPJHL’s highest scoring teams in the regular season.
“There were points during the season where we were averaging six goals a game,” he says. “It’s just a matter of stopping the puck at that point. Just don’t get lit up.”
As a national championship veteran, Gordon says he doesn’t necessarily feel the nerves that some first-timers may feel when they step on the ice in front of bigger-than-normal crowds.
He says he and his teammates with national championship experience have been quick to talk about their past experiences with the rest of the Tigers.
“Joey Piccone was in the RBC with Georgetown (in 2005), Doug Henderson won it with Aurora (in 2004) and Jordan Watts played in the TELUS Cup last year (with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens), so we have some experiences to talk about,” Gordon says. “The atmosphere in our room is pretty loose, and we try to treat it like any other game.”
With this being his final year of junior eligibility, Prince George will be Gordon’s last shot at a national championship. As for his future plans, he says he has kept his options open.
“I haven’t committed to anywhere yet, and I won’t until I see what is out there,” Gordon says. “I’m just going to enjoy this week, try to win it all, and then I’ll play it by ear.”