10/22/2012 12:06 PM
Story By: Stuart McComish
HAMILTON, ONT. – Jarred Tinordi was exposed to the life of a professional hockey player long before he became one himself.
Tinordi, who turned 20 on February 20th, was born in Burnsville, Minnesota and also lived in Texas and Maryland as he followed the hockey career of his father Mark, a defenceman who played 663 National Hockey League games over 12 seasons with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars, Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals.
“I was a little kid so you don’t really realize what a lot of it means when you are that age,” the younger Tinordi said after a recent Hamilton Bulldogs practice. “There are some things I remember.”
Tinordi picked up his first professional point last Friday night when he assisted on Louis Leblanc’s game-opening goal late in the first period of the Bulldogs’ 4-1 win over the visiting Toronto Marlies before a sold out crowd at Copps Coliseum.
The Bulldogs, 2-1-0-0 through their first three games of the American Hockey League regular season, visit the Rochester Americans at 7:35 p.m. Tuesday in a neutral-site game at Buffalo, N.Y. before returning home to host the Marlies at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs entertain the Abbotsford Heat at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Tinordi got his first taste of AHL action on October 6th in a 3-1 preseason loss to the Marlies at Cobourg, Ont.
“That first game was a good learning experience. It was good to be out there against another AHL team. I know there are some things I can improve on, but I thought I did some things well and I am just focusing on getting better with every game.”
A 6’6”, 215-pound blueliner, Tinordi was taken by the Montreal Canadiens with the 22nd overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the club last November 2nd.
“There’s plenty I can learn here in Hamilton. There are a lot of older guys here and there is some great leadership in the room. The guys have great to me here, there are a lot of guys who have played on the Bulldogs and some have been with the Canadiens. It’s great to be able to learn from those guys and be able to ask them how things work here at the rink or how to get around Hamilton.
“It’s exciting to be in the AHL right now, I think the league will be very strong this season. I am looking forward to playing against a lot of the guys who are being sent down from the NHL. There isn’t much we can do about the lockout, I am sure we would all love to be able to go to camp with the Canadiens, but we have to play the hand we’re dealt. There will be a lot of eyes on us.”
Tinordi was drafted out of the United States national team development program where he was captain of the U.S. entry that won gold at the 2010 World Under-18 Championship. He turned down a scholarship from the University of Notre Dame to play for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, who had chosen him in the fourth round of the 2008 OHL Priority Selection. Knights head coach Dale Hunter and Tinordi’s father were teammates for five seasons with the Capitals.
“We were neighbours,” the younger Tinordi recalled. “Dale and my dad used to drive to the rink together.”
Tinordi said there were a number of factors that steered him to the OHL.
“I think the style of my game is more suited to the OHL. I wanted to play a longer schedule, I wanted more travel and the increased practice time and I wanted to be around the environment the Hunters had created in London. I learned a lot from Dale and his brother Mark.”
Tinordi spent two seasons with the Knights, contributing three goals and 27 assists for 30 points in 111 games. He added three goals and five assists for eight points in 25 playoff games and was the Knights’ captain when they won the OHL Championship last season, losing only three games in the playoffs on the way to a five-game triumph in the final over the high-powered Niagara IceDogs.
“I think a lot of people expected Niagara to come out on top in that series and I think we flew under the radar a bit. We had a better team than most people gave us credit for, the IceDogs might have had more big-name guys than we did, but we played well as a team, we stuck to our game plan and we kept battling.”
The Knights rode a stout blueline, anchored by Tinordi, and the outstanding goaltending of Michael Houser to their second OHL title.
“Houser was huge for us and we had a lot of confidence playing in front of him,” said Tinordi. “I think we had more offence than people gave us credit for. It was a tough series, the IceDogs had a good goalie in Mark Visentin.”
The Knights advanced to the Memorial Cup at Shawinigan, Quebec and wasted no time making their presence known, upsetting the Saint John Sea Dogs, champions of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and reigning Memorial Cup champions, 5-3 in their first game.
“That tournament was an awesome experience and a real thrill,” said Tinordi, who also played for the U.S. in the World Junior Championship earlier in the season at Edmonton and Calgary. “We were very excited to get there and play in that environment. It doesn’t get much bigger for junior hockey players. We didn’t know what to expect coming in and playing Saint John. But we played a hard game against them and played them well. They had a good team there.”
The Knights fell 6-2 to the host Shawinigan Cataractes, but rebounded to post a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings, champions of the Western Hockey League, and earn a bye to the championship game where they faced the Cataractes, who featured two of Tinordi’s Bulldogs teammates, centre Michael Bournival and defenceman Morgan Ellis. Bournival picked up an assist on Anton Zlobin’s winning goal at 17:51 of overtime as the host team prevailed 2-1.
“Their crowd had a lot of energy and they were a really good team,” said Tinordi, who was named to the tournament all-star team. “There were a couple of plays here and there we would like to have had back and maybe the tournament would have gone a different way. But I was pretty proud of our guys.”