Last hometown hurrah for Bears’ Metcalfe

Headingley boy wants last laugh on Herd

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It is both hello and goodbye this weekend for Headingley's Tyler Metcalfe, captain of the University of Alberta Golden Bears.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/01/2010 (4752 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It is both hello and goodbye this weekend for Headingley’s Tyler Metcalfe, captain of the University of Alberta Golden Bears.

Metcalfe and the No. 2-ranked Golden Bears are visiting the University of Manitoba Bisons for a pair of games at Max Bell Arena. On Friday, the Bears beat the Bisons 4-3. The teams meet again tonight at 7.

It’s the last time this season the Golden Bears will play in Winnipeg. While it’s a chance for the 25-year-old centre to see family and friends in his hometown, Metcalfe is a fifth-year athlete, so it’s also the final time in his university career he will play in Winnipeg.

“I didn’t even realize it would be my last time until my dad (Ross) mentioned it last week,” said Metcalfe, who has won two Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships with the Bears.

“But now that I’ve been thinking about it, unless I play in the AHL, it’s going to be my last time playing in Winnipeg. It’s kind of a cool feeling, I’m not really sad. I love being in Winnipeg, back home. This last time will be a unique experience.”

Hockey has taken Metcalfe on a 10-year adventure to this point, got his hopes up, hung him out to dry, but always reeled him back in with the promise of a new path leading him to his dream of playing professional hockey.

Metcalfe played one season of midget for the Winnipeg AAA Monarchs before leaving home at age 16 to play in the Western Hockey League where he spent five years as a member of the Seattle Thunderbirds.

In his draft year (2002), he was highly rated but was overlooked. Afterward, he attended NHL camps in Chicago, San Jose and Tampa Bay as a free agent, but no contract offers came. It was a turning point for him. He had to decide whether he would go to a minor pro league and take his chances or get an education.

“(Not being offered a pro contract) is a blow to your confidence at the time, but by playing in this league, I was able to maintain my skill level and improve on it while getting some life skills,” said Metcalfe, who won the WHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year Award in 2001-02. Because he played five WHL seasons, the WHL’s scholarship program paid for his tuition and books all five years of his university career.

He’ll graduate in May with bachelor degrees in physical education and education. “I feel very fortunate to have played in such a high-calibre league with such an phenomenal program like Alberta. Our team has been No. 1 or No. 2 the whole time I’ve been here.”

As his fifth and final CIS season winds down, Metcalfe is preparing to take the next step. He’s going to head overseas to play pro hockey but he’s not yet sure where he will be. He’s in the process of becoming a dual citizen — Canadian and Hungarian. His grandfather on his mom’s side, Al Ambach, was born in Hungary and, according to that country’s rules, grandchildren can obtain citizenship with the required documentation. He’s also considering playing in Asia, where a number of well-funded pro leagues have sprung up.

“I’m concentrating on having a good final season here, but I’m really looking forward to starting a new chapter next year and going after my dream of playing professional hockey,” he said.

This weekend, he’ll see one particularly familiar face at the opposite end of the ice. Bisons goalie Steve Christie is an old friend.

“I wouldn’t mind scoring on him in my last game,” Metcalfe said, laughing.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

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