Forward gives a boost to Wildcat offense

Robyn Goodman

Tyler Gron, known for his offensive output, switches sides and plays defense during a power play earlier this season against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Gron leads the Wildcats with 31 points this season, after scoring 16 goals and 15 assists so far this season. // Mark Flemming/NW

Like many NMU hockey players, when Tyler Gron picked up a hockey stick at five years old, he was hooked.

“My dad wanted to get me on skates as soon as I could walk,” Gron said.

Gron is a junior forward from Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada. Before Gron came to NMU, he played hockey for the Spruce Grove Saints and the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, both from the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).

Gron said that he started to look at NMU for college because his junior league coach attended NMU and was in close contact with Walt Kyle, head coach at NMU.

“Not only does NMU have a great reputation, it has a good reputation in Alberta,” Gron said. “I wanted to come here because I wanted to pursue school and a hockey career.”

In addition, being one of the leading scorers on the team, Gron was recently named CCHA offensive player of the week a second time this season for the week of Feb. 7-13. That weekend NMU beat Michigan State University (MSU) in both games.

“It was a great feeling to be recognized, but what was even better was coming out with two wins on that weekend,” Gron said.

During their games on the road on Saturday, Feb. 12, Gron recorded his first ever hat trick.

“It was unbelievable. I didn’t even know my third goal went in until about 10 seconds after,” Gron said. “But I couldn’t have done it without my line mates and a little bit of luck.”

That luck has paid off this season. Gron has recorded 16 goals, 15 assists for 31 points for the Wildcats.

Gron came to NMU in 2008 after a successful career in the AJHL. The past couple of years since Gron has been at NMU, he said that he’s really proud of his team for the way they’ve played in post-season games.

“One of my best memories playing hockey at NMU is going to the Joe Louis Arena,” Gron said.

After Gron graduates in the spring of 2012 with a degree in management, he said he hopes to still be playing hockey.

“I’m working as hard as I can (at NMU) to have a career in hockey after I graduate,” Gron said.

Head coach Walt Kyle said that Gron has had a very good year. Starting at around December 2009, Gron started to find a way to put some pucks in the goal.

Gron is one of NMUs most dangerous offensive players, Kyle said. He has a really good offensive awareness and is good around the net.

“We’d like to see him around the front of the net more and see him score more goals,” Kyle said. “He’s certainly a guy that’s a big part of our hockey team.”

When recruiting Gron to play for NMU, assistant coach John Kyle, Walt Kyle’s brother, went and saw him play in Alberta. Gron grew up with fellow NMU hockey player Andrew Cherniwchan. Cherniwchan was already committed to NMU when John Kyle went back to Alberta to watch Gron play.

“Since we already had Cherniwchan, we went after Gron, and it was a natural fit for him,” Walt Kyle said.

Cherniwchan and Gron started playing summer hockey together when they were 12 years old. After that, they played Midget and Junior hockey on separate teams but remained close before coming down to NMU, Cherniwchan said.

“Tyler has always had an offensive gift that not many players have but wish they did,” Cherniwchan said. “Every year he’s become a better overall player and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a career in hockey.”

The hockey season will conclude this weekend, Feb. 25 and 26, where the Wildcats will play the University of Michigan at the Berry Events Center at 7:30 p.m.