Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Lisa Brown on 08/11/11 at 12:30 PM ET
There are several Oilers prospects that will add up to make for an excellent Oilers team going forward. One of my favourite prospects is Tyler Bunz. Bunz is a favourite for various reasons. For starters, he is from Edmonton and was fortunate enough to be drafted by his favourite team. Bunz also has an excellent work ethic and has persevered to rise to a position at the top of the WHL goalie list. Some will say he was the second, and some the third best goalie but ultimately, he was tops in the league.
This year has been tremendous and yet busy for the young netminder.The Medicine Hat Tigers, Bunz’s WHL team made it to the WHL Eastern Conference Finals, then Bunz was invited to the Team Canada goalie camp in Calgary and made it through to the top four selection. Next Bunz attended the Oilers development camp at Millenium Place in Sherwood Park. The next step was the Team Canada development camp in Edmonton and Fort McMurray. There, Bunz did all that he could to make an impression on head coach Don Hay and the rest of the Team Canada coaching staff. If Bunz can continue his next season with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL where he left off, Bunz could very likely be representing his country in his hometown for the IIHF World Juniors tournament.
There are other aspects to Bunz that set him apart from other prospects, at least in my mind. One of the easiest to describe has to be how personable he is. Bunz has risen up the popularity ladder, but still remembers the little people. In any interview, Bunz is always well spoken and eloquent, I am never editing out long pauses or a lot of ums and ahs. Also, he doesn’t require a lot of lead in before answering, and he always has something insightful to say. Sometimes, as with a question in this interview, I only needed to say one or two words, then Bunz already knew what I was asking. This may be partly due to the fact that not only is Bunz an excellent hockey player, but he has also won the Tigers’ Scholastic Player of the year award not once, but twice. It could also be due to the fact that Bunz has likely done more interviews this summer than the rest of his hockey career.
I was able to catch up with Tyler Bunz at the Team Canada development camp in Edmonton On Saturday August 6th:
LM – How has your summer been?
Tyler Bunz - It’s been pretty good. It’s been a pretty exciting summer, with the goalie camp in June, then the Oilers prospect camp and now I’m here. It’s been really quick; I’m already heading back to Medicine Hat in a couple of weeks to start my season. It’s been one of the most exciting summers I’ve ever had. I’m just looking forward to what it brings from now until September and then I’m looking forward to the season with Medicine Hat.
LM - What did you get out of the Oilers development camp?
Tyler Bunz - I think I just felt more confident in myself. I think the year before this I was a little bit nervous with all of the media and all of the attention that an NHL camp brings. For me going into my second time I thought it was a little easier to handle everything. I just went out there and played hockey and that’s what I’m hoping to do here today; just forget about everything, forget about the fans, forget about who’s watching and just go out there and play hockey. It’s my favourite sport obviously, it’s my life. You just got to go out there and enjoy every moment of it and I’m just going to go out there and do that tonight.
LM - Samu Perhonen was sick and missed most of the Oilers’ camp
Tyler Bunz – I saw him skate for about five minutes, and then he had to go back into the dressing room. He wasn’t feel well the whole week, I don’t know what it was whether he caught something on the plane, or whatever from coming over from Finland. That’s obviously tough on him. I would have liked to have seen him play. He’s highly touted, obviously, with the Oilers. It’s always exciting to see what the other goalies bring to the table. I thought that Tuohimaa played really well. I didn’t know what to expect from him. I looked at him from across the ice when we were playing and he looked really good. The Oilers have some really deep goaltenders that are coming up through the line. You just got to take it day by day and work hard on and off the ice because you never know who is working harder than you.
LM – Do you think it’s important to make friends with new goalies?
Tyler Bunz – You do kind of talk about goaltending skills. I think that Olivier Roy and I have the best relationship out of me and any other goalie on that roster with the Oilers. That’s just because we are from the same CHL league and we see the same shooters mostly. We’re going through the same things. He’s gone through the World Juniors as well and I’m going through that right now. We usually room together with the Oilers when we’re there. He’s a great guy to have around. He’s experienced, he knows what to expect and it’s always great to have someone like that in your contact list.
LM – You mentioned at the end of the season that you wanted to work on your skating and puck control over the off season, how has that been going?
Tyler Bunz – It’s been pretty good I think. My skating has come a long way and I feel I’m faster on the ice. I’m always looking forward to working on my rebound control. That’s essential for a goaltender in any league to make sure that you can control those rebounds. Sometimes you’re going to have trouble with them but for the most part, you need to control them. I thought I’ve done a pretty good job of that while I’ve been here. I think I need to be a little better with it as well, but every ice time I feel it’s getting better and that’s all you can ask for to just get better at everything you want to work towards every ice time.
LM – Are you still doing hot yoga?
Tyler Bunz - I do just yoga now at Body By Bennett. There isn’t a sauna or anything like that but we do yoga every Wednesday. It’s not as intense, but it still harps on the same things. I feel that my flexibility has come a long way this summer with just regular yoga once a week. It’s been a pretty good summer with that and obviously the training has been going well with Simon as well. It’s been a pretty good summer so far and I’m looking forward to the rest of it.
LM - With so many teams analyzing goaltenders through video, do you think that a shortened career may ever be a possible outcome of technology?
Tyler Bunz - I think any goalie can bring anything they want to a game. You can’t really expect what a goalie’s going to do on every situation just because every situation’s got its own outcome and a goalie handles it differently from say a game seven Stanley Cup finals and a regular season game. It’s pretty tough to say that video is going to do that but obviously guys are looking at the way that I handle the puck during games. I’ve noticed that in the season where when I play the puck in the first period they dump it in towards me but after the second period they kind of change things up and they dump it into the corners because they knew that I can play the puck. Obviously that’s been something that’s been talked about throughout coaching staffs and stuff throughout the league and you notice that quite a bit.
LM – What are your expectations or plans for the coming season?
Tyler Bunz – I just want to go out there and have a good start to my season. That’s going to be huge for me making this team. You need to have a good start to your season and hopefully get named to the Subway series against the Russians and then from there you’ve got to get named back to camp in December. It’s going to be a long couple of months here. I’m looking forward to it.
LM - Best of luck Tyler, I really hope you make it.
Tyler Bunz – Thank you
After the August 6th game in Rexall Place, Bunz’s Team White had pulled out a win in thrilling fashion due in part to the talents of young Ryan Nugent Hopkins. Bunz only played half of the game, due to the need to get all four goalies on the ice. Tyler had to have been glad to have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on his team, “He’s something special I think that the fans have something to look forward to with him.”
LM – How did it feel to have the crowd cheer so loudly for you?
Tyler Bunz - When you hear the crowd cheer for you, it’s something special, chills down my spine. It was a lot of fun out there. If it was up to me, I would have played the whole 60 minutes. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Bunz does have competition to make this year’s U20 Team Canada, but has the work ethic and talents that can take him far. In my humble opinion, at this point if Bunz can maintain his drive and focus, he can be an NHL goalie. Now we just have to wait and see if I’m right. I’m sure that Bunz is with me, hoping I’m right.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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