SPISSKA NOVA VES, SLOVAKIA - APRIL 15: USA's Dylan St. Cyr #1 prepares to lead his team to the ice surface for preliminary round action against Russia at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Dylan St Cyr: “It’s great to have two hockey parents”
Being the starting goaltender for Team USA at the IIHF U18 Worlds - a tournament they’ve dominated in recent years - is always a pressure-cooker situation.
This year’s goalie, Dylan St. Cyr, might be under more scrutiny than many of his predecessors.
St. Cyr’s mother is Manon Rheaume, who became famous in 1992 by becoming the first woman to attend an NHL training camp and appear in a pre-season game with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Dylan was born in 1999, as his mother’s goaltending career was coming to an end.
Having chosen his mother’s position, she has naturally provided guidance to his career, both on and off the ice.
“Growing up, when I was just learning the game, she would coach me with a lot of the little things on the ice, but now it’s more the mental part of the game that she helps me with, because that never really changes,” St. Cyr explained. “Obviously, the way the goalies play the position has changed a lot since she played, but the mental part is always there, so she helps me out with that a lot.”
St. Cyr’s father was also a professional hockey player. Gerry St. Cyr - who led the Western Hockey League in penalty minutes during the 1991/92 season - played five years in the minor leagues. He was a teammate of Rheaume in 1996/97 with the WCHL’s Reno Renegades.
“He was a forward, but again, there’s that mental side of the game,” Dylan said of his father’s influence on his career. “They’ve both been a huge help for me in that way - I think it’s great to have two hockey parents.”
Both of those parents were born in Canada, but St. Cyr was born in Las Vegas and has lived in Michigan most of his life. That made joining the U.S. National Team Development Program, which is based in suburban Detroit, a no-brainer.
“Everything got closer for me. It used to be a 45-minute drive to the rink and now it’s just two minutes away,” he said of where he used to play minor hockey compared to the drive now to USA Hockey Arena (formerly Compuware Arena) in Plymouth. “I was really fortunate - one, to make the team, and two, for it to be in such a great location for me.”
In addition to being the home rink of the USNTDP, USA Hockey Arena hosted the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship just a few weeks ago. With mom having been a mainstay in net for the Canadian national women’s team in the ‘90s - and a two-time gold medalist at the Women’s Worlds - the family obviously had some interest in the event.
“It was really cool. Luckily [the tournament] was there, so it was good to get a chance to go there and support Team USA, and they won, so that was great” St. Cyr said.
It must have been an interesting moment for mother and son watching as the gold-medal game went into overtime - Dylan, the current goalie of the U.S. men’s U18 team, and Manon, who was in net for Canada in so many gold medal games against the States. According to Dylan, though, there was no conflict.
“She’s not deeply involved in their program anymore, but she knows several of the players on both sides,” he said of mom’s involvement in the current women’s game at the international level. As for her allegiances, he said: “She’s an American citizen now, so I think she’s switched over. She’s definitely rooting for America.”
As for Dylan’s career, he has played the bulk of the minutes in goal for the USA U18 team this year, and played every minute of the USA's four group stage games at the World Championship in Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia, winning all four. For head coach John Wroblewski, he’s obviously the go-to guy in net.
“He’s our rock,” Wroblewski said of St. Cyr after Monday’s 5-2 win over the Czech Republic. “I think it was their first shot that went in - it was a great shot by their guy - but Dylan just continues to persevere. A lot of people call him out but I give him nothing but credit.”
In two of the first three games, St. Cyr allowed an early goal, but showed the poise to shake it off and play well the rest of the way. That calmness shows when he talks about playing his position.
“You just try to look past it and play like it’s a 0-0 game all the time,” St. Cyr said about giving up an early goal. “I really don’t think it has a big impact. It happened a couple games ago against Russia as well. You just reset your mind and move on to the next shot.”
St. Cyr also stopped a penalty shot against the Czechs - a situation that St. Cyr also faces calmly.
“It’s just another shot - nothing special,” St. Cyr cooly said about hockey’s most exciting play.. “That’s how I think about it in my mind - just another shot, except there’s just no defenders.”
In the team's fourth game against Sweden, which was for first place in the group, the Americans were outshot 36-29 but won 5-1. St. Cyr stopped 20 of 21 shots in the second period alone, which kept his team ahead by two goals heading into the third period.
“Those are kinda fun,” St. Cyr said of busy stretches of play. “You keep busy and stay active the whole time. Not much thinking or sitting around, just focusing on every shot - that’s the key part for me.”
And just as playing while behind doesn't affect his mood, neither does playing with the lead.
“I don't think it's really any different. I just try to keep that 0-0 mindset, no matter if we're down three or up three or whatever.”
Things have gone well for St. Cyr and the Americans so far, but he knows the bigger games are still to come. Thanks to his parents, though, he seems to handle the mental side of the game well.
“I’m feeling good right now,” he said, looking ahead to the rest of the tournament. “We’ll see what happens along the way, but as of right now I’m feeling good.”