CARROT RIVER — Tyson Norris is an impact player in many ways for the Carrot River Outback Thunder.
In some aspects of his game, there is a literal impact. Sometimes it is the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Saskatoon product delivering a hit or sticking up for teammates, and on other occasions it is Norris sacrificing his body for the good of the team.
“I haven’t seen him back down once - first in the corners, first in lanes to block shots,” Outback Thunder head coach Luke Folk said. “[He’s] willing to take a hit to make the right play and is a guy who stands up for teammates. If you’ve seen a Thunder game in the past year, I guarantee you’ll remember Norris.”
The Carrot River squad went 2-0 last week with wins over the Saskatoon Westleys, 3-0, on the road and the West Central Rage, 3-1, at home. Those victories gave the Outback Thunder a three-game winning streak.
“We’re really proud of this group right now,” said general manager Brennan Hall, whose team was 3-8-1, as of Sunday. “The overall play from the first game to now is exactly what’s leading to some success now. It’s great to see.”
Hall praised the Outback Thunder’s overall team play.
“We are showing more and more confidence as the games go on and it seems we are more comfortable with ourselves and each other,” he said.
The young squad stocked with Junior B rookies counts on the 21-year-old Norris to have an impact with his leadership. The squad does not have a captain this season, but Norris is one of its four assistant captains.
“He demands a lot from himself and his teammates,” Folk said. “The guys respect him, respect his voice in the room, and follow his lead on the ice.”
As an 18-year-old, Norris played house league in Saskatoon and thought he was done with competitive hockey. However, an opportunity came about for him to try out for the Westleys for the 2017-2018 season. Norris hit the gym hard and dropped almost 40 pounds.
He posted 12 points, three goals, and 26 penalty minutes in 34 games for the Westleys. Last season he came to the Outback Thunder and had nine points, two goals, and 98 penalty minutes in 29 games. This season Norris has an assist and 44 penalty minutes in 11 games. As of Sunday, he was ranked second on the team in penalty minutes behind Ben Couvier’s 56. Norris said he was not always a physical player.
“Actually, I used to get knocked around a lot, so I’ve learned to become more physical and it’s become one of my favourite parts of the game,” he said.
His gritty play is important for the Outback Thunder.
“His physical presence opens up ice for his linemates as well as keeping opposing D on their toes,” Folk said.
Norris works as a shipper/receiver in Saskatoon. He drives to Carrot River usually twice a week. What has he liked most about playing for Carrot River?
“The atmosphere of the rink and just the commitment that some of the locals have to the team through thick and thin,” Norris said. “It’s also such a tight knit group of guys in the room.”
The Outback Thunder Last Week
Saturday, Nov. 2 in Saskatoon
Carrot River 3, Saskatoon Westleys 0
Outback Thunder scorers: Tyler Almen, Tanner Dutcawich, Trey Hardie
Goalies: Steven Soyko, Carrot River, 35 saves on 35 shots; Jake Davidson, Saskatoon, 25 on 28
Notes: Soyko earned his first shutout with the Outback Thunder and second in the Prairie Junior Hockey League. General manager Brennan Hall said, “Steven was once again phenomenal - stopping 35 of 35. The way he sees the game and his positioning is excellent.” Almen and Dutcawich, on a powerplay, each scored to put the Outback Thunder up 2-0 in the first period. After a scoreless second period, Hardie scored in the third.
Sunday, Nov. 3 in Carrot River
Carrot River 3, West Central 1
Outback Thunder scorers: David Wiens (2), Trey Hardie
Rage Scorer: Ryan Smith
Goalies: Steven Soyko, Carrot River, 27 saves on 28 shots; Hudson Killam, West Central, 40 on 43
Notes: Neither team scored in the first period. Hardie gave Carrot River a 1-0 lead but Smith tied things up before the end of the second period. Wiens scored twice in the third to propel the Outback Thunder to its third straight win. “He can really be a game changer every single night and tonight was a night where he showed that,” Hall said.
The Carrot River Outback Thunder (3-8-1) are hoping to extend their three-game winning streak.
“We are very happy with the play of the team in the last three games and we hope to continue that going forward,” Hall said.
They will get to know the West Central Rage really well. The two teams meet on Saturday and Sunday in Carrot River. Including last Sunday’s Outback Thunder victory, the two teams play three straight games against each other.