Goaltender named MHL rookie of the year
Tyler Caseley has proven it’s not where a player is drafted that counts.
The 18-year-old Yarmouth Mariners goaltender from Spring Valley, just outside of Kensington, was the seventh-last player selected in the eighth and final round of the 2017 MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) Entry Draft. Monday, the son of Trent and Jody Caseley was announced as the league’s 2018-19 rookie of the year. Caseley was also selected to the MHL’s all-rookie team.
“I was really honoured to see that on Twitter,” Caseley told the Journal Pioneer in a phone interview Monday night. “My goal was to crack a spot on the roster, and eventually work my way to earning the role of the starter.”
Caseley did just that. He posted a record of 25-7-2 (won-lost-overtime losses) while playing a key role in the Mariners’ first-place finish in the Eastlink South Division. He had the second-most wins in the league, only one behind the Summerside Western Capitals’ Dominik Tmej’s 26 while registering a very respectable 2.55 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
“He’s played very well,” said Mariners general manager and head coach Laurie Barron, who confirmed Caseley will start Game 1 of the best-of-seven playoff series versus the Truro Bearcats on Thursday night. “I think he would be the first to tell you that he is lucky to have a veteran D core playing in front of him.
“He’s a big kid, a good puck stopper and he’s had a great year.”
Caseley made an immediate impact with the Mariners, going 6-0-1 with a 1.39 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in September while being recognized as the league’s second star of September and rookie of the month.
“That boosted my confidence big time,” acknowledged Caseley, who was quick to credit the play of his teammates in front of him. “That was a big part of my success.”
Barron added the Mariners had high hopes for Caseley entering the season, and he did not disappoint.
“He came in and played really well right off the hop,” continued Barron, who agreed with the assessment that Caseley’s story can inspire other late-round draft picks that they can be impact players if they put the work in.
“Absolutely,” added Barron. “Our scout, Matt Anthony, had a lot to do with (Yarmouth scouting Caseley).
“I’ll be honest with you, Matt knew a lot more about him than I did. . . Basically, we needed a goalie to step in. Our 20-year-old graduated last year, it was a good opportunity for him, we threw him the ball and he ran with it.”
Has there been an area to his game that Caseley has really worked on improving throughout his first season with the Mariners?
“Really, for me, a big thing this year was getting into games mentally,” he answered. “I was finding I would have a really strong game, but there would be that one goal I want back. How do I fix that?
“Part of that was really my mental preparation, preparing before the games, training my eyes and warming up my body.”
A complete list of MHL awards announced Monday:
Player of the year – Brodie MacArthur, Summerside Western Capitals.
Defenceman of the year – Francis Thibeault, Campbellton Tigers.
Goaltender of the year – Dominik Tmej, Summerside Western Capitals.
Character player of the year – Sam King, Edmundston Blizzard.
Rookie of the year – Tyler Caseley, Yarmouth Mariners.
Coach of the year – Greg Leland, Campbellton Tigers.
Young/Knickle Trophy (top goaltending duo) – Dominik Tmej and Daniel Thompson, Summerside Western Capitals.
Goal – Dominik Tmej, Summerside Western Capitals.
Defence – Francis Thibeault, Campbellton Tigers.
Defence – Pierre-Luc Lurette, Campbellton Tigers.
Centre – Sam King, Edmundston Blizzard.
Left wing – Brodie MacArthur, Summerside Western Capitals.
Right wing – Jean-Simon Belanger, Grand Falls Rapids.
All-Rookie All-Star Team
Goal – Tyler Caseley, Yarmouth Mariners.
Defence – Matthew MacKay, Grand Falls Rapids.
Defence – Alex Wynter, Amherst Ramblers, and Brady Crossley, Yarmouth Mariners (tied).
Centre – Matthew Briggs, Miramichi Timberwolves.
Left wing – Dawson Stairs, Campbellton Tigers.
Right wing – Stephen Fox, Amherst Ramblers.