The Perseverance of a Champion: Tyler Hinam

Perseverance: Persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

You would have to be living under a rock not to know the name Tyler Hinam after his breakout performance last week at the Memorial Cup. Hinam’s journey and subsequent success in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League can all be traced back to his unwavering perseverance and love of the game.

Dream Big

Tyler Hinam grew up like any other young hockey crazed Maritimer, dreaming of one day playing at hockey’s highest level. From frozen feet to a numb wind beaten scarlet face, the kid from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia honed his skills for endless hours on his outdoor rink.

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“My first memory of skating would be in my backyard,” said Hinam proudly. “My dad made a little homemade rink, it wasn’t very big, but only being two or three years old I didn’t need a lot of space.”

Hinam’s love for the game was growing and so was he. “Once I got a little older he stopped doing it as I was getting a little too big for that area.” From the backyard to the local community rink, Tyler Hinam’s love for hockey grew deeper and deeper.

Family Matters

Every young player needs a mentor, someone to look up to for guidance, tireless support and direction.  “I don’t know if I had a ‘hockey mentor’, but both of my parents have been there by my side for every step of the way” confessed Hinam. “They have gone through it all with me and supported me through everything. I have been privileged to have some great coaches throughout the years as well, but Tim Boyce and the entire Halifax Macs coaching staff were incredible” Hinam said.

Hinam had a solid Midget career, but the power-forward definitely had his share of adversity during that time. “The Macs coaching staff helped me grow so much over my two years and gave me every opportunity to succeed.”

Boyce isn’t surprised by the Hinam’s success and heroics displayed at the Memorial Cup. “When we had him in Midget the one thing that stood out about Tyler was his drive to succeed and will to compete. It’s higher than most kids I’ve ever coached” explained Boyce.

Boyce was thrilled to see his former player excel on the national stage. “Whether it was scoring dirty goals in the crease, turning pucks over on the forecheck or passing pucks with his hands and feet when he didn’t have a stick, Tyler finds ways to compete, you saw that all week long,” Boyce said proudly.

Winning the President Cup and then Memorial Cup on home soil and being able to share that with his family will be something Tyler Hinam will never forget, just like all the sacrifices his parents made for him throughout his career.

Chronical Herold
Credit Chronical Herold

“My parents were the reason it has all been possible” Hinam said. “They introduced me to the game and fuelled my passion. They drove me to every practice, to every game, paid for every team, trip, camp and piece of equipment, but most importantly they supported me and believed in me.”

Hinam’s outstanding performance last week was extra special for his family, coaches and friends, because they knew what he went through on his unconventional path to the QMJHL.

A Broken Dream

Tyler Hinam’s journey to the ‘Q’ wasn’t linear to say the least; the adversity that confronted him at the Midget level undoubtedly shaped the person and player he has become.  A players draft year is the most important year of their career. The constant attention is embraced; the pressure to perform becomes a player’s ally. When scouts evaluate and access draft eligible players they constantly project and gauge future performance and success.

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In the most important year of Tyler Hinam’s life his dream and ultimate goal turned into a nightmare. “My journey into the Q wasn’t exactly routine, my first year of Midget didn’t go exactly as planned. I broke my collar bone in October, which left me sidelined until early January.”

Hinam worked extremely hard to rehab the injury only to have his goal to be drafted shattered once again. “In my second game back I took another hit on that same shoulder and it broke again in the exact same spot.”

Things happen for a reason, but that’s incredibly difficult to process for a fifteen-year-old trying to accomplish a childhood dream. “It was very disappointing especially the second time due to the fact that it ended my season and squashed any remaining hope of being drafted. To this day, I still don’t know if it was just bad luck or if I came back too quickly” admitted Hinam.

Eighteen teams passed on Tyler Hinam in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft.

The Long Way

No one has ever questioned Tyler Hinam’s drive and determination. Those attributes have always been firmly entrenched in his DNA. Hinam had faced the devastating consequences of a season ending injury in his draft year, but remained fixated on his childhood dream of playing in the QMJHL. “I worked hard that summer and came back and had a great second year in Midget with the Macs.”

In 38 regular season games, the highly skilled gritty winger had 15 goals and 20 assists. In 8-post season games Hinam had 8 goals and 5 assists. The Huskies Maritime scout at the time is currently their Head Scout, Daniel LeBlanc. “He was lanky and wasn’t always constant, but he was playing with speed and was really good on the forecheck.”

LeBlanc remembers being intrigued by Hinam’s growth, development and progression especially during the Monctonian Tournament that year. “Tyler was making plays and moving the puck quickly. He had quick hands, and handled the puck well. There was a little something that caught my eye, the more I watched him, the more I liked him.”
Hinam’s playoff performance that season reconfirmed LeBlanc’s evaluations and projections.

The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were well on their way to capturing a President Cup and solidifying an appearance in the Memorial Cup when then Head Coach and General Manager Gilles Bouchard gave his scouting staff a daunting task. “Gilles told Raphael Pouliot who was the Head Scout at the time to ‘go find me another Waked’,” LeBlanc said.
Antoine Waked embodied all the characteristics of a true Huskie, great two-way player with tremendous compete level, scoring touch and grit. Sound familiar.

LeBlanc told the powers that be, he had a player that definitely fit that description. “I have the guy for you,” LeBlanc told Pouliot.  Pouliot made the trip down during the playoffs to see Hinam in person and the rest is history.

“Tyler played good that game, so I didn’t have to sell him a lot,” LeBlanc said laughing. “Tyler plays the game what we like to call the ‘Husky Way’. He had a good combination of size, speed and hands. I saw him becoming a very effective power forward just like Waked.”

The similarities and comparisons don’t end there between Waked and Hinam.
LeBlanc points out that Waked really came into his own at 19 and 20.
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies selected Hinam in the 4th round, 73rd overall.
The tall lanky kid from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia had taken the long way, but his dream of playing in the QMJHL was about to become a reality.

One of the Pack

Tyler Hinam’s dream to play in the QMJHL was about to come true, nevertheless, the young forward did find the initial transition to the league and city difficult. Hockey is one thing, but adjusting to a new language and city is another. “I’ve had a lot of people help me in Rouyn” confessed Hinam.

Joey Perricone the Huskies former Goalie Coach was one ally that Hinam leaned on for support during his rookie season. “Joey was originally from California so he was an English guy with minimal French abilities, he was awesome to me in a sense of adjusting to the new French community.”

Perricone and Hinam’s bond went deeper than just language.  “Tyler is a great kid, we had a very good connection right away, he was a hard worker, polite and always eager to learn more,” Perricone said.

In 2016-17 Perricone and the rest of the Huskies coaching staff felt Hinam could be an impact player. “Tyler has size, plays hard and has very good offensive ability and a great shot. His scoring potential was something we noticed right away,” explained Perricone.

Hinam was adapting quickly to his new surroundings, but the offensive numbers didn’t appear right away.  In 57 games in his rookie year Hinam could only muster up 15 points, nonetheless, the gritty two-way winger was gaining invaluable experience and learning all the nuances of the league.

Hinam realized his time would come if he remained patient. Perhaps Hinam’s most influential ally was Peter Abbandonato. “Peter’s been one of my best friends the past three years. We lived in the same billet house my first season, he really took me under his wing when I was seventeen,” confessed Hinam. “We are super close, Peter is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”

Hinam was now one of the pack, living out his dream and wanting to see how far he and his new hockey family could go.

A Special Group

What makes a team a championship caliber team? What made this Huskies team so special? Tyler Hinam doesn’t hesitate when answering that question. “I think we had a very special group this year and it all stems from the fact that twenty of the twenty-three players were drafted by the organization. We all grew up together, we were all rookies together, and we all know each other so well that our team chemistry was unbelievable.”

Hinam’s role and responsibilities grew over the last few seasons, but you could say the same about the entire team. In his second full season with the Huskies, Hinam amassed 12 goals and 26 assists in 58 games.  Entering the 2018-2019 season the Huskies were poised to make a championship run, the only question that remained was how would the group adjust to having a new bench boss?

“Mario was great for everyone,” Hinam said of the new Huskies coach Mario Pouliot. “He demanded greatness everyday, and his work ethic as a coach and the amount of hours he spent at the rink really let us all know that he was fully invested.”

It was clear from the beginning of the season that Pouliot had all is his players buying in.
Pouliot’s best attribute as a coach is his ability to identify roles and then get the most out of every player. Tyler Hinam was no different. Hinam was living up to the Huskies scout’s offensive expectations and projections. The power forward took his game to entirely new level this year eclipsing the twenty-goal mark for the first time in his career.
Hinam finished tied for 6th in team scoring during the regular season with 44 pts.

Hinam’s contributions on and off the ice over his three seasons with the Huskies have certainly not gone unnoticed. “Tyler’s a great guy on and off the ice,” said Huskies defencemen and two-time President Cup and Memorial Cup Champion, Noah Dobson.
“In big moments, Tyler steps up just like he did in the playoffs and Memorial Cup. He always works hard and has a good attitude, he’s a great teammate.” Dobson added.

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“Tyler and I arrived in Rouyn three years ago, it wasn’t always easy for him,” said Felix Bibeau. “Tyler deserves everything that is happening to him right now, he’s a good hockey player, but an even better person.”

“Tyler proved us right given his performance last week at the Memorial Cup,” said LeBlanc. “Tyler played the best hockey of his career, he played up to the potential of what we saw and what he could attain.”

The Three C’s

The three C’s, that was the Huskies mantra throughout their run to the President Cup and Memorial Cup.  “Calm, cool and collected, that was our motto all playoffs,” Hinam said.
“It was written on our bench right above the water bottles so we would see and read it after each shift.”

The Huskies faced some early adversity in the first round of the playoffs versus the Shawinigan Cateractes. “The motto came from a team meeting held after Game 4 in the opening round against Shawinigan,” Hinam said. “We were tied 2-2 after four games in a series that most people predicted a sweep. We agreed that our problems and the difficulties we were experiencing were from us losing our composure and focusing on things we couldn’t control.”

Huskies rallied around their new motto and coaches message. “We played our best hockey when we stayed even keel, when we were calm and confident with the puck and when we just focused on ourselves,” explained Hinam.

When the Huskies found themselves down two goals in the final game of the season they trusted the process, they trusted themselves and delivered when it mattered most. “When we went down 2-0, all that was said was ‘3 C’s’, everyone knew what it meant, everyone knew what they had to do, it was our way of resetting and refocusing on the task at hand,” said Hinam.

A “Mem”orable Moment

The farthest thing from Tyler Hinam’s mind was winning a President Cup and a Memorial Cup when he was fifteen and passed over in the QMJHL Entry Draft.  Hinam continued to persevere and never gave up on his dreams. Hard work, dedication and passion fuelled his journey to the top.

So just how special was winning the President Cup and Memorial Cup and having the opportunity to share that moment with family and friends?  “It was really special for me, it’s what every player dreams of doing. To do it with my friends and family in the building was very special. If it was in any other city a lot of them probably wouldn’t have been able to make the trip, so to experience the victory with all the people who helped and supported me since day one was amazing,” Hinam said.

One can only imagine what went through his mind when the proud Nova Scotian hoisted the Cup. “I thought of all the hard work I put into making this moment possible, and my parents for giving me every opportunity they could to succeed and all the support they gave me throughout my entire hockey journey.”

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From being passed over to proving he belonged, to being an impact player and leader for an organization that believed in him, Tyler Hinam’s journey with the Huskies continues.
When asked about the prospects of pro opportunities the mature three-year veteran quickly responded like a true Husky.

“Well for right now the next step is playing in the league next year as a twenty year old, providing leadership and hopefully showing the next young crop of Huskies what it means to play for Rouyn-Noranda.”

“When I arrived here, there was an amazing leadership group of nineteen and twenty year olds that really helped us along and steered us in the right direction, so now it’s time for me to give back and hopefully positively influence someone’s career.”

“There’s an amazing culture in Rouyn, one of unity, work ethic, and winning, so for me it’s important to keep that culture and attitude no matter what. We are going to have a young team next year and hopefully this incoming crop of kids will be the foundation of another Huskies championship team a few years down road.”

Perseverance: persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

Tyler Hinam never let adversity define him.
He never gave up on his dreams.
Tyler Hinam has the perseverance of a champion.

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