If forward Tyler Hynes had followed his original plan when he committed to the Union College hockey program a couple of years ago, when he was playing at Albany Academy, he could have been a part of the Dutchmen’s NCAA hockey championship team last season.
But after a disappointing year with the U.S. Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers in 2012-13, Hynes, a Slingerlands native, decided to put off his Union commitment.
Now, after completing his second season in the USHL, Hynes believes he is better prepared to play college hockey. He is one of eight recruits the team announced on Monday.
“Anytime you think you’re supposed to be somewhere and they do so great, and even win a national championship, you would have to second-guess your decision,” the
20-year-old Hynes said. “I want to be the biggest part of the team that I can be. Had I gone in [last season], I wouldn’t have been. It’s great to be a part of something like that, but it would be bittersweet if you’re in the stands [while] on the team. I want to be an impact guy. I want to make a difference. I don’t think I was ready to do that last year.”
After leading Albany Academy in scoring with 33 goals and 27 assists in 32 games during the 2011-12 season, Hynes struggled with the Lancers. He had only six goals and nine assists in 53 games.
“I didn’t have the year that I wanted to have,” Hynes said. “I didn’t have a very good year my first year at Omaha, numbers-wise. They had me playing a different role there than I was recruited to play at Union. I really wanted to have a chance to play a different role and be a bigger, impact guy, offensively. Basically, I wanted to be the most prepared I could be for Union. I felt like I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been, and I wanted to not look back and say, ‘Man, I wish I had another year and did that extra year rather than coming right in because it would have made a difference.’
“I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned and wanted to take every opportunity I could.”
Hynes started last season with the Lancers and had eight goals and eight assists in 36 games. He was traded to the Fargo Force, and it proved to be a big move. In 23 games with the Force, Hynes had 12 goals and seven assists. Five of his goals came on the power play.
“At first, I was really down and shocked about what happened,” Hynes said. “But now that I know what I do, I would definitely do it all over again, and probably would hope for it to be sooner because I was given an opportunity to put the puck in the back of the net. I was just happy I took advantage of the opportunity after a year and a half of being a different role guy.”
Hynes’ junior hockey development may have been slowed by a broken hamate bone in his left wrist that he suffered while playing baseball for Albany Academy in his senior season.
“One of the things it inhibited me to do was go to [Omaha’s] training camp,” Hynes said, “so I did miss out on the original first impressions with the coaches.”
Union coach Rick Bennett knows what he has in Hynes.
“I think he’s a little bit of a hybrid in that he provides a grit area to his game, along with some scoring ability,” Bennett said. “I think whoever he plays with, he’s going to provide a little bit of the Matt Hatch-like tenacity along with a guy that can score.”