Tampa's Tyrell earns pro-motion

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

CALGARY - Dana Tyrell has battled plenty of adversity in the past and to get through it, he focused on his work ethic.

Now a rookie with the Tampa Bay Lightning, it obviously paid off.

On Dec. 19, 2008, the Airdrie product was all set for a great Christmas holiday with the Canadian world junior team.

But in an exhibition game against Sweden, Tyrell blew out both the ACL and MCL in his knee, knocking him out of the tournament in Ottawa and ending his season with the Prince George Cougars.

Only through grit and determination did Tyrell get back for the following hockey season. He spent it with Norfolk in the AHL, and this year jumped to the Lightning for his first NHL campaign.

In more bad timing, when the Lightning played an exhibition tilt at the Saddledome, Tyrell was a healthy scratch.

He made sure that wasn’t his final chance to play in front of friends and family this season, though, and he suited up for the Bolts Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames.

“He’s our biggest surprise this year,” said Lightning head coach Guy Boucher. “When we started this season, I didn’t think he would make our team.

“Every single practice and game he forced us to keep him. Now, we can’t do without him.

“(Our third- and fourth-line grinders) help keep the culture of the team going, which is being relentless. (Tyrell) absolutely represents that.”

Tyrell seems to have fit in well with the young Lightning. The team recently gave him a framed scoresheet and framed puck from his first NHL game.

He can recall his first goal — one of three heading into Tuesday night’s game — like it happened just yesterday, although it came back on Oct. 27.

“It was awesome,” Tyrell said. “It came in my seventh game in the NHL. Against the Penguins, I was playing with Nate Thompson and Adam Hall.

“We had a big role that game. We were playing against (Sidney) Crosby’s line all game. We were able to shut him down.

“I was also able to score one. As it trickled past, I gave a pretty good celebration. I wouldn’t call it a pretty one. It was a one-timer from the corner and it trickled past the goal-line. It was exciting for me.”

Playing on a rebuilt knee, Tyrell actually feels like he’s faster than he used to be.

“Moving up to this level, I feel like I have the speed,” he said. “It took me a year to get back and have the confidence again.”

As for the world juniors, Tyrell would almost rather not talk about it. He still holds his medal in high regard and he was there for the victory, but …

“I definitely missed out,” he said. “I know I made the team and that was huge for me. But playing in that tournament is always something special for junior players. I didn’t make it the year before, so I had the chance and I got injured.

“It sucked. It’s too bad. But things have worked out now and I’m playing where I want to play.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


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