MELFORT — Despite having a shoulder injury limit him to nine games last season, defenseman Tyler Heidt will be leaving the Melfort Mustangs to join the Merrimack College Warriors.
“I’m obviously very fortunate for this opportunity,” said the 20-year-old, who had one year of eligibility remaining. “Before coming into junior hockey I didn’t really know where I would fit and I just knew that I had to keep working hard and that’s what I’ve done.”
Heidt is set to join the Warriors program after spending the previous two seasons in Melfort with the Mustangs.
In his rookie season the Saskatoon native appeared in 54 regular season contests posting 21 points.
Last season was much more difficult for the 5’11” defenseman as a significant shoulder injury limited him to just nine games, where he posted nine points.
In three playoff games with the Mustangs after returning from injury, Heidt posted one goal and one assist.
Heidt said it was tough to miss almost the entire season with the injury, but said thanks to his teammates and coaches he was able to persevere, finally return, and then sign an NCAA Division I scholarship.
“I’m not going to lie. It was pretty tough when it happened and there was a lot of negative things going on, he said, adding he thanked his family for helping him through it.
“My teammates too in Melfort, I had a really good group of guys there that supported me and obviously I couldn’t do it without them either. Trevor Blevins, the head coach, and [Dan] Meyers, they were always awesome to me and gave me the opportunity to play lots and developed me as a hockey player too so I really want to thank Melfort for that too.”
The decision to join the Warriors program came after Heidt made the decision to de-commit from the University of Alaska-Anchorage, a decision he said was difficult but one he felt he needed to make after the Seadogs program underwent a coaching change.
“I’ve never really met [the coaches] before and they didn’t really know who I was. They watched some video on me and they thought I still had a great chance there but I just felt that when they brought their new coaches in that it would be a better chance for me to get to some place where I knew that I had a spot where people watched me and know what I am.”
Of course, the challenge of playing at Merrimack was also enticing, said Heidt, because on a nightly basis he will be playing teams in Hockey East, which is one of the top college hockey conferences in the country.
Had he not signed a contract to play with the Ottawa Senators earlier this month, one of Heidt’s first games of the season would have come against the fourth overall pick in the National Hockey League, Brady Tkachuk, and Boston University.
“I think Merrimack will be a great spot. I went up there to see the place and I absolutely loved it. I think it’s going to be a great chance for me to develop as a hockey player and obviously go to school. They’ve got a great business program there,” he said.
“Hockey East is a really good conference, you’re playing against really great teams every night. It will be a really great thing for me to get to the next level.”
The move will be a “big step” said the Saskatoon native, because not only is he playing in a new league, but on a new coast and in a new country.
“There’s obviously going to be lots of ups and down and lots of new stuff to see. I’m really looking forward to it. I really think it’s going to be a place that’s going to suit me and obviously Boston’s such a beautiful place around that area in Massachusetts.”
Heading into his first year of university hockey, Heidt said his goals are to continue developing as a player, but said Warriors fans can expect to see an offensive defenseman who can skate and move the puck.
“I really think that at the next level it’s going to be a big thing to keep my feet moving and use my skating to my advantage and you’re playing with better players. So you’ve got to use your mind and move the puck at the right time in order to have success.”
While Heidt is set to play hockey, he will also be hitting the books, saying his plan is to study business.
With Heidt’s junior career seemingly over, the young defenseman wanted to thank the community of Melfort, as well as the whole Mustangs organization and his billets for his two seasons in Melfort.
“I had great billets there in Melfort and obviously I just want to thank all my family and friends too for supporting me and getting me to where I am now.”