Strong season for Bunz
Future is bright for Edmonton Oilers' draft pick
Saturday, May 07, 2011 06:00 am
After a rather troublesome season for the Edmonton Oilers, a St. Albert goalie hopes to add to the equation that will help build the team’s future success.
Tyler Bunz of the Medicine Hat Tigers posted his best career statistics after being drafted by the Oilers in 2010. His .919 save percentage and 2.47 goals-against average ranked among the top netminders in the Western Hockey League.
The significant improvement in performance compared to the previous season can be attributed to just becoming more familiar with the game, according to Bunz.
“It comes with the experience and the confidence that you get with playing back-to-back 60 game seasons. That’s always going to help me get more comfortable with myself and how I feel in the net,” he said.
That added experience helped guide the Tigers to a third place finish in the western conference with 100 points, followed by a lengthy playoff run that saw them knock off the Brandon Wheat Kings in six games and upset the Red Deer Rebels in five.
While the Tigers eventually fell in the semifinals in four games to the Kootenay Ice, Bunz was considered one of the forces that helped guide his team on a remarkable run. The improvement in his game is the result of an extensive off-season workout plan.
“It was almost like this year the game slowed down for me a bit. Things didn’t happen as fast as they did last year just because of the way I changed my game up a bit with my goalie coach. He has a lot to do with the success I accomplished this year,” Bunz said. “Being drafted too gives you that extra motivation to go out there and have a really good year.
Last year after the draft, Bunz attended the Oilers’ annual prospect camp. The chance to compete with the best in his age group was an opportunity the former bantam AAA Sabre and midget AAA Raiders absorbed to the fullest.
“I started the game against the Calgary Flames, so it was a pretty cool experience. The level of the competitiveness and the skill was a lot better than you might think with just prospects,” said the Oilers’ fifth round (121st overall) selection.
While playing in the NHL is the ultimate goal for Bunz, the future will hold a trying path. After speaking with Oilers’ management earlier in the week, he has set a timeline that will hopefully take him to the big leagues.
“There is a long process for a goalie to make the NHL. I see myself in Medicine Hat for next year and hopefully I will be in the AHL when I’m 20. Those are just a couple goals that I have set and I’m looking forward to hopefully making that next step in the near future.”
With his eyes currently set on the upcoming WHL season, Bunz is looking to improve on his record of 35-13-4-4 and three shutouts, a feat that only becomes a reality if all the right pieces fall into place like they did this year.
“It’s tough to say where we will be at next year but any time you play with Medicine Hat there is a winning tradition there and we expect nothing less then winning and I think it will be the same next season.”