By Scott Billeck
Tristan Keck had an impressive rookie season for the Winkler Flyers and now the Canadian Junior Hockey League has noticed as well.
The CJHL selected Keck, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s 2012-13 rookie of the year as the national Rookie of the Year Award recipient.
Keck led the MJHL in rookie scoring with 31 goals and 63 points, good for 11th in league-wide scoring as well. Impressive numbers for the kid who was just 17 years old going into this past season.
“He’s not the biggest player on the ice, by any stretch of the imagination,” says Steve Mullin, Assistant Coach for the Addison Division-based team.
“But what really impresses, and the first thing you really notice with him is his skating ability and his shot. He has such a quick release, very hard, very accurate. Honestly, the first time we played a lot of the teams in the league, he surprised a lot of the goaltenders by how quick he can get that shot off and onto the net.”
The Winkler Flyers are thrilled with how Tristan has turned out so early in his junior career.
“It is extremely exciting for the organization, and definitely for Tristan,” exclaims Mullin. “He was highly touted, absolutely, as he came into our camp. He more than blew away expectations for us and for what we had at the start of the season and the accomplishments he has made; he’s earned every bit of it and definitely deserves every bit of it.”
Keck’s coaches credit his work ethic, on the ice, and specifically off the ice, as monumental in his ability to play with kids bigger and older them himself.
“The way he takes care of himself physically, he’s in probably the best shape of any of the players on the team,” states Mullin. “He watches what he puts in his body; he makes sure he does all the work necessary to keep himself playing at that high level.
Before joining the Winkler Flyers for the 2012/2013 season, Keck played for the Pembina Valley Hawks AAA team as well as the Morris Mavericks of the Manitoba High School Athletics Association Zone IV league.
Playing for the Mavericks, Keck posted an outstanding 68 points in 19 games played, 44 of those points being goals.
“Tristan has a great attitude and a tremendous skill set,” says Barry Lewis, Head Coach of the Morris Mavericks high school hockey team.
“He continues to up the ante, he loves the challenge; a big game competitor. He comes through when the pressure is on.”
A product of Morris, Keck credits being close to home for his on-ice success.
“I lived at home this year, so that was always nice” says Keck. “When I had an off day, I could just go home, relax, and spend time with my family. It definitely helped me.”
The 5’10”, 170 pound leftwinger wishes to pursue the college route, having garnered some interest from some NCAA schools.
“I’ve had a few calls, but nothing is set in stone right now,” said Keck.
Keck looks at the offseason as a time where he can continue to grow and build upon his rookie season.
“I’ll be working out pretty much every day of the week,” Keck added. “I want to put as much mass on as possible so I can be stronger on the puck and just as well increase my speed.”
The CJHL awards are the first of their kind, implemented for this past season to recognize the successes of players across the 10 leagues. The finalists were selected by each of the 10 leagues in the CJHL. A representative from each of the leagues ranked their top five among all of the nominees and then the winners were selected by point-based vote with all 10 leagues representatives casting a ballot.