Local star comes within one game of Stanley Cup final
He was within one game of making the Stanley Cup final.
But for Airdrie’s Dana Tyrell, the experience of getting that far during his rookie season will stay with him for the rest of his life.
The Tampa Bay Lightning lost 1-0 to the Boston Bruins in game seven of the NHL’s Eastern Conference final on May 27, sending Tyrell and his teammates packing, while lifting the winners into the finals against the Vancouver Canucks.
But the forward, who had 15 points in 78 regular season games, knows his team still accomplished something special this season.
“There’s so many players in the NHL who have been there for many years and haven’t even had a sniff of the Stanley Cup, or even made the playoffs,” he said
“It’s something special and was a great learning experience. It’s something I’ll take with me for my career. Nobody expected us to even make the playoffs. Over half our team was new and I think we opened a lot of eyes. We know we’re good enough to play with the best teams in the league. It’s too bad we lost in game seven, but it was a successful season.”
Tyrell was hurt in practice after game four in Tampa’s first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. What was at first described as a lower-body injury was later revealed as a break in the first metatarsal of his foot.
He missed the four-game second-round sweep of the Washington Capitals, but returned for game five against Boston and played the final three games of the series
“It was really exciting to get back in the lineup,” Tyrell said.
“It was tough being out for the end of the Pittsburgh series, the Washington series and the start of the Boston series. It was tough watching, but I gave the team my full support. When I got back in, I got my X-ray and the doctor said my foot was healed enough to play. We taped it up and got ready for the games. It felt good in my skate and I was very happy to get back on the ice.”
Tyrell played 6:42 during 11 shifts, mustering one shot and one hit in game seven, in what he described as the highlight of his hockey career thus far.
“I can’t even really explain how the atmosphere was,” he said. “It was a crazy game. There are thousands of people who would give anything to play in that type of game, so it was something special and I had a great time out there.”
Tyrell will now return to Airdrie for the summer, move into a new place and begin a workout regimen. He consulted with Tampa head coach Guy Boucher and general manager Steve Yzerman before leaving Florida, where they told him they were impressed with his development and expect it to continue next year.
“This summer is about getting stronger, more mature and coming back in great shape so I can be a better hockey player,” he said. “I need to recover a bit and recharge the batteries, then get back to training, as this will be a big summer for me.”