Photo: Tori Hartman
Off the ice, he reminds you of a shyer version of Nate Schmidt. On the ice, he wears Schmidt’s old Hershey number, but he’s far from shy, especially when it comes to sticking up for his teammates.
“I’ve always played hard and most of it comes out of just competing,” said Tyler Lewington. “I wouldn’t consider myself an enforcer, I just stick up for my teammates if that needs to be done and try to make it hard on other teams’ forwards.”
And he’s done an admirable job after literally being thrown into the fire last season as one of three rookie defensemen on Hershey’s roster who helped the team to the Calder Cup finals, scoring four goals and adding an assist. It was that playoff run that Lewington points to as a confidence booster for him.
“We knew we had a good team,” said Lewington who continued, “For us three, it was special, not too often where a team of 3 rookie d-men go all that way. I think we did a good job, our veterans on the team helped us a lot and we just did our best to contribute.”
He wasn’t supposed to even be there, at least not then. Troy Mann often reminded the fans in postgame press conferences that Lewington, Madison Bowey, and Christian Djoos were playing mostly out of necessity and that he would have liked to have progressed the trio a little more slowly with more time in South Carolina, but injuries necessitated keeping all three in Hershey, and for most of the season, you could almost forget that they were rookies.
But now it’s a different season, and bigger things are expected, after all, they aren’t rookies anymore, and a more confident Lewington is progressing nicely from the kid who scored just six points in 32 regular season games last season (he already has five in 19 games this season).
Hershey VP of Hockey Bryan Helmer said, “I think that Lewington out of the three has really shown me that he’s really heading in the right direction. I think that he could be in the NHL sooner rather than later.”
In order to do that, Lewington had to impress in the off-season, and focus on doing the little things. And he enjoyed his experience in training camp.
“It’s always you’re always really hungry and try to do your best to impress them as much as you can,” said Lewington. You just try to relax and play your game, but it was definitely nice playing those preseason games and trying to prove myself.”
Some of the advice he was given in camp are the things he is working on back in Hershey, like the small details, foot speed, and playing to his strength. He’s happy to have his coaches “Cash” and “Manner” helping him along the way as well, and spends time watching video of practices and games.
For now though, he’s just happy to be playing hockey in the AHL, and he isn’t upset about where he is at all and didn’t even hesitate when asked what the best part was about being in Hershey.
“It’s the way they treat you,” Lewington responded.” Every little thing, whether it’s breakfast in the morning, the facility here, the fans are huge, it doesn’t get any better than Hershey obviously, so it’s just a great community and I feel really lucky to have landed here.”
For now, Hershey is happy to have the kid who is perhaps following in the footsteps of a few former Bears who are now in Washington. But as he has shown in the past, when he gets that call, which may come sooner rather than later, he’ll be ready to do everything he can for his team and try to hang on to that roster spot.
Just the Facts
Drafted: 2013 Round 7 (#204) by the Washington Capitals
DOB: December 5, 1994
First AHL Goal: November 27, 2015 for Hershey at Lehigh Valley
First AHL Point: November 27, 2015 for Hershey at Lehigh Valley
He Said It
After a recent game, I sat down with Tyler and asked him to finish a few sentences that I started.
Teammate I’d never want to fight – “O’Brien”
Opposing player I hope drops the gloves – “Who I’d want to fight?” laughs a little “I probably shouldn’t answer that.”
I try to model my game after – “Guys like Alzner and Orpik”
I started playing hockey when I was – “Three-years-old. I don’t remember the name of the team, but it was in Sherwood Park.”
My favorite sport other than hockey is – “Lacrosse”
If I wasn’t playing hockey I would – “I don’t know” laughs a little “I’ll figure that out when I’m done.”
My Czech teammates – “Really like to yell in Czech a lot.”
By Julie Beidler