By RYAN MCCRACKEN on January 14, 2021.
It’s been an uncharacteristic year to say the least, but there’s still been some familiarity for Medicine Hat Tigers centre Ryan Chyzowski.
With the Western Hockey League still on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chyzowski spent his extended off-season working his usual summer job of washing windows and has been hitting the ice in Kamloops with former Tigers coach Shaun Clouston.
“It’s been fun,” Chyzowski said of skating with Clouston, now head coach of the Blazers. “It’s been good to have some high-paced tempo and actual game-like practices with him.”
Chyzowski spent the first three seasons of his WHL career playing under Clouston – who was let go from the team in the 2019 off-season but quickly found a new role behind the bench in Kamloops, where he led the Blazers to a 41-18-3-1 record last season. Clouston also spent seven years as an assistant and associate coach with the Tigers under Desjardins, so Chyzowski says the practices have been running at a welcome pace and integrating many similar aspects to practices in Medicine Hat.
“I liked him as a coach over the years, he treated me well and treated me with respect,” said Chyzowski. “It was good to get back together with him, see him for a bit and kind of get back to some old memories of my first few years in Medicine Hat being on the ice with him. With his style of play and his style of practice, it’s been pretty high tempo and good skates like we’d have with Willie there in Medicine Hat.”
As for spending his summers as a window washer, Chyzowski says it’s a great way to be outdoors and active in the Okanagan while waiting for his chance to return to the ice.
“It’s just a summer job I usually get every year,” said Chyzowski, who is entering his overage season after producing 34 goals and 35 assists over 62 games with the Tigers last season. “It’s pretty fun and active, pretty much just eight hours every day of labour and working outside. It’s good exercise and I can make some money as well.”
The WHL announced last week it is committed to ensuring a 24-game season will take place. While Chyzowski admitted there’s still some doubt, he’s feeling more optimistic about this announcement than the league’s three previously proposed start dates. Either way, he’s back to training full time.
“I had a good break and now it’s just back to lifting weights and skating quite often now,” said Chyzowski, adding he’s been joined by local WHLers and pros during his ice sessions. “They’re all kind of in the same situation, with WHL guys and a few pro guys like Joe Hicketts, Kevin Davis, Ryan Gropp – those guys are all around town too.”
While nothing regarding the 2020-21 season is set in stone, Tigers head coach and general manager Willie Desjardins told the News earlier this week that the league is targeting a late February start, with players potentially reporting to teams earlier that month.