Throughout his years of hockey, no year has been more pivotal for Tyler Hopkins than the 2022-2023 season.
Between captaining the U16 AAA Halton Hurricanes to another dominant performance, helping Ontario win gold at the Canada Winter Games and setting himself up for the upcoming Ontario Hockey League draft, the 16-year-old from Campbellville, Ont., keeps excelling.
“He gives 110 per every time he is on the ice,” said Hurricanes defenceman Matthew Schaefer, Hopkins’ long-time teammate. “And he does a good job at keeping the guys focused.”
In that way Hopkins’ impact off the ice is as strong as it on it, finishing second in the South Central AAA Hockey League with 42 goals and 82 points as the Hurricanes, the defending U15 champions, went 31-2-3.
The Hurricanes lost 2-1 to the Southern Tier Admirals in the OMHA semifinals this year, but beat the York-Simcoe Express 5-2 in the OHL Cup seeding game.
The upcoming OHL Cup offers a chance for redemption, specifically against the Toronto Marlies, a team they lost to in the finals back in late December at the Holiday Classic in Toronto.
“Losing in the finals was a bit of a heartbreak,” said Hopkins. “They’re a really good team and we definitely want another shot at them, and the OHL Cup will be our opportunity. When we do see them, we’re going to bring everything we can and give it our best shot.”
Both Hopkins and Schaefer did that after being selected to play in the Canada Winter Games, helping Ontario rally from a two-goal deficit for a 3-2 double-overtime win over Saskatchewan.
Hopkins was vital in Ontario’s comeback, as he set up centre Ryan Roobroeck’s goal with 10 minutes left in the third to cut Team Saskatchewan’s lead to 2-1.
“It was probably the coolest experience I’ve ever had playing hockey,” recalled Hopkins with a smile on his face. “The place was packed with people, and it was loud. …
“Saskatchewan was really, really good,” he continued. “They had a couple kids that could really play, and it was just back and forth. If it wasn’t for our goalie and their goalie, the game would have been over in five minutes with the amount of chances there was, but they stood on their heads and made it really interesting, and a lot of fun.”
Now 10 years into the sport, Hopkins is eligible for the Ontario Hockey League draft this year but he’s laser focused on making sure the Hurricanes season ends in success.
“I don’t really want to think about the draft coming up. I’m more focused on my team right now,” he said. “It’s definitely more important to focus on the group of guys that I’m with right now.”
Hopkins points to his teammates as a huge part of his overall success.
“Being a captain of those guys…it's really special,” he said. “They're a good group of kids. And I love every one of them. It was awesome when my coach told me that everybody had nominated me to be the captain because it could have gone to so many guys. We all lead and that's why we're such a great team.”
Share with your friends on Facebook and join the largest network of hockey parents.
Jake Schulz is a student in the Sport Journalism post-grad program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @jake_schulz6