December 26, 2010 in Sports

Spokane native gaining more ice time with Seattle Thunderbirds

By The Spokesman-Review
 

It says a lot about Tyler Alos that his hockey role model is Mike Fisher.

“I saw an interview once, he was modest, humble, that’s what I like,” the young hockey player from Spokane said about the Ottawa Senators’ center. “He’s got his morals set, his faith, he works his (tail) off. He’s not the highest scorer on the team. He’s a character guy, team guy. He’s on all situations on the ice. I try to model my game off him.”

It seems to be working for the 17-year old Seattle Thunderbirds forward, who will be here for a game with the Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday as the second half of the Western League season gets under way.

“Last year I was a bit of a fourth-line guy, get on the forecheck and just work hard,” said Alos, who started slowly because of illness but has 11 points, with three goals, in 28 games. “This year I’m killing more penalties, trying to get some power-play time, trying to have a solid spot on the second, third lines. My role’s grown, my ice time’s grown and with that there are more opportunities.”

That’s just what coach Rob Sumner expected.

“Looking back a little further, he’s progressed a ton since we drafted him,” he said of the 2008 sixth-round bantam pick. “I remember sitting with him, he was pretty determined and focused. You could pick that up right away. He had his eye set on playing at 16 years old.

“We didn’t want to dampen his spirit but we didn’t know if he would be even close to handling that physically. He really grew and improved. He had good year at 16.”

Now 6-foot, 180-pounds, Alos had eight goals and nine assists in 65 games as a rookie.

“I’m a smaller guy and I never had high status like a first-round pick but I worked my (tail) off to try to get there,” he said. “I always wanted to be better than the guy next to me. Passion comes from within. I wanted to be the best I can … it’s not really a thing that can be taught, I want to be that guy on the team that everyone looks up to. I work hard on and off the ice to do that.”

Where that passion for hockey came from he isn’t sure.

“No one in my family ever played,” he said. “When I was three I said I wanted to do that. … It’s really all I ever played. I tried baseball but it was too boring compared to hockey.”

To chase his dream he has left some comforts behind, including a normal life as a Shadle Park student.

“I miss it, I had a lot of friends, good teachers,” he said. “It’s not always fun being away, there are sacrifices, schools and friends, but that goes away when I get to the rink.”

Seattle is a nice fit for the unassuming Alos, though he admits being on a Canadian team would be fun.

“Just because the fan base is incredible,” he said. “The atmosphere you play in is pretty remarkable. It’s also nice to not be in the spotlight all the time, kind of flying under the radar. But I like it in Seattle, we have a good fan base.”

It also affords his family and friends the opportunity to see quite a few games.

To continue the upward career path, Alos knows what he has to do.

“Because I’m a smaller guy, I have to build my leg strength,” he said. “I have to keep my feet moving. … Sometimes I struggle with that. I worked hard on that this summer. A lot of little things come with that. When you get bigger, a bigger shot comes with that.”

Sumner has no quibbles with Alos’ game and what he needs to do to keep improving.

“Like a lot of young players, the combination of maturing physically and putting in the hard work,” he said. “That’s all. He’s on the right track. He really competes, he really cares. He’s a smart player. He has an offensive upside and defensive responsibility.”

That’s why Alos relates well to Fisher instead of superstars like Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin.

“I watch hockey games and see interviews,” Alos said. “I try to relate myself to those situations. Sid the Kid is like one in a million. It would be hard to say I’m like him or like Ovechkin.”

But he’s making a good Tyler Alos.

Ice chips

The Chiefs have 43 points, 10 behind Portland in the U.S. Division standings and three in front of third-place Tri-City. … They had their 11-game point streak as well as their 15 games with a power-play goal snapped in a 2-0 loss in Everett but came back to pick up a milestone 4-0 win over Vancouver and go into the Christmas break with momentum. … Goalie James Reid picked up the win, his 69th, to move past Aren Miller into second place on the Chiefs career list, eight behind Dustin Tokarski. With his 11th shutout, Reid broke a tie with Jim Watt and is now four behind Tokarski. … It was the 450th career win for coach Don Nachbaur, and came against Don Hay, who picked up his 500th career win a few games earlier. … Nachbaur is in his first season with the Chiefs. He previously spent six seasons in Seattle and six in Tri-City.

Tyler Johnson has moved into third in the league in scoring. His 23 goals are fourth and his 29 assists are sixth. He is tied with Mitch Wahl for 14th in Chiefs history with 98 goals. His 121 assists are tied for 23rd and the 219 points are 18th. … Levko Koper is seventh in franchise history with 292 games, his 80 goals are tied for 24th and 182 points are 26th. … Brenden Kitchon, who has set career highs in goals, points and assists, despite missing the first seven games of the season with a hand injury, is third among WHL defensemen. … Steve Kuhn has played in 177 consecutive games. … Forward Dominik Uher, who turns 18 on Dec. 31, has seven goals in his last five games and 21 points in his last 18 after getting just one assist in his first nine games.


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