Training camp continued Wednesday for the Westshore Wolves. They’ll face off against the Peninsula Panthers on Friday for their first exhibition game of the season. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

Player development key to Wolves’ new bench boss

Tyler Matheson aiming to finish in the top three this season

For more than a decade, Tyler Matheson has lived and breathed hockey.

He’s spent countless hours on the ice, and has poured blood and sweat into a sport that’s become one of his greatest passions in life.

Despite retiring from pro hockey three years ago, Matheson’s love for hockey will continue in another form – as head coach of the Westshore Wolves this season.

“I was really excited. This is going to be a great opportunity for me to further my career as a coach,” said the 27-year-old.

Born and raised in Langford, Matheson has deep roots in the West Shore.

He learned to skate at the age of three, and began playing hockey at the age of four, eventually joining the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey system and playing major midget for the South lsland Avalanche.

Matheson went on to play in the British Columbia Hockey League with the Victoria Grizzles for two years before making his way to the Western Hockey League, first with the Saskatchewan Blades and then with the Kelowna Rockets. In his final year of junior, Matheson played for the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

His professional hockey career began in 2011, playing for the Arizona Sundogs, Williamsport Outlaws, and Fayetteville Fire Antz, before hanging up his skates in 2014 with the Brampton Beast.

In the months following his retirement, Matheson spent a bit of time away from the rink, but always felt something was missing in his life.

That’s when he decided to make the transition from player to coach.

“I didn’t want to get away from the game. After my retirement, it felt weird to not have hockey in my life,” he said.

Shortly after, Matheson became an assistant coach with the Victoria Grizzlies in the 2015/16 season, and trained and coached a number of teams with the Saanich Minor Hockey Association, most recently the Saanich tier 1 Bantam team.

Training camp continues this evening for the Westshore Wolves. Learn more about the team's new coach in Friday's paper.

Posted by Goldstream News Gazette on Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wolves’ general manager Ken Carson said there were a few contenders to become the team’s new bench boss, but what set Matheson apart was his experience in the hockey system and his motivation.

“We liked that he was not very far removed from the game, as well as his age. He’s young, motivated and wanted to have coaching be a big part of his life,” Carson said.

“We like the fact that he has a lot of experience working with kids in that age group and really hope he brings that structure and discipline.

Because of his motivation level of really wanting to be a coach, we really feel he’s going to work that job very, very hard.”

As head coach, Matheson has set modest goals, aiming to finish in the top three in the league and hopefully taking a run at the Cyclone Taylor Cup. But his priority is ensuring player development, both on the ice and off.

“I’m not going to say that we don’t want to win games, but I want to help kids develop and move them on to that next tier. There’s a couple of players that are wanting to make junior A at some point,” Matheson said.

“I just love seeing kids develop. You can start with an individual or a team and see them blossom into awesome individuals and a stronger team.”

The Wolves training camp kicked-off recently, with their first exhibition game Friday, Aug. 25 against the Peninsula Panthers.

The regular season kicks-off Wednesday, Sept. 6 against the Kerry Park Islanders at The Q Centre.

kendra.wong@goldstream gazette.com

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Training camp continued Wednesday for the Westshore Wolves. They’ll face off against the Peninsula Panthers on Friday for their first exhibition game of the season. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)