Penticton’s Tyrell Buckley is excited for the next chapter in his hockey career.
Buckley will be lacing up his skates with the Merritt Centennials in the BCHL after playing for the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s Varsity Red team. The defenceman scored four goals and added 18 assists in 29 Canadian Sport School Hockey League games last season. He added one assist in two post-season contests helping OHA Red capture the Varsity Division Championship and earned the CSSHL’s Varsity Division Top Defenceman Award.
“It’s going to be a big jump but I think I will be ready,” said Buckley. “I learned a lot from Robert Dirk who is my coach.”
Buckley credited Dirk, a former NHL defenceman, with giving him pointers on little things defenceman need to do and how to play the position.
“He does a lot of things very well,” said Dirk in a team release. “His skating and mobility is very good and he sees the ice very well. He makes good decisions with the puck and is solid defensively. Every coach is looking for that type of defenceman that can skate, move the puck and is solid defensively.”
Buckley made big strides, most notably with his poise.
“He was very good to start with,” said Dirk. “But as the season progressed he became very confident in what he can do and made huge strides in the sense that he could control a game from the back end just because of his confidence. He had the skills, but when a player starts believing in himself and what he can do, that’s when they start making huge strides.”
Buckley believes he can have success with the Centennials and hone his skills with the help of their veterans and the coaching staff.
In suiting up for the Centennials, Buckley is also excited for future visits to the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“It will be special games each time against the Vees,” he said.
Buckley considers himself a defensive blueliner with a good stick and skating ability.
“I can move the puck when I need to,” said Buckley, who looks up to L.A. Kings defenceman Drew Doughty and likes the way the two-time Olympic gold medallist and Stanley Cup champ plays.
“We are very excited to have Tyrell join our organization,” said Centennials head coach-GM Luke Pierce. “He is exactly the type of person and player that we value here in Merritt. His game is fundamentally very strong and we see huge potential in his development at this level. His hockey intelligence is very high for a player his age, and matched with his already strong skill set we see him becoming an elite player in our league over time. Tyrell is a dedicated and intelligent young man with a very bright future and we are delighted to have the opportunity to further his growth as a player and person.”