The dictionary defines it as a constraining or compelling force or influence.
In hockey, pressure means those things and more.
Playing major junior hockey, stepping up to perform, and being traded to your hometown Western Hockey League team. These are a few examples of the pressure faced by kids as young as 15 when chasing their dream of playing in the National Hockey League.
Josh Tarzwell was dealt to the Rebels via a trade with Lethbridge when the team traded Lane Zablocki to the Hurricanes for Tarzwell, a 2019
2nd round pick and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2020.
“I was really excited, it was actually a really big surprise, when I figured out it was Red Deer, I was really happy to be coming back and playing for the team,” Tarzwell said when asked about being dealt to the Rebels on December 7th, 2017 .
Playing in front of a home town crowd is exhilarating for these young players,“It was something I’d been thinking about. It’s hard not to think about it when you come to the rink every Saturday night to watch these guys,” said Tarzwell of his being in Red Deer to watch the Rebels as a youngster.
“It is really cool, I appreciate it a lot. Played here for probably 4-5 years my minor hockey,” added Tarzwell when asked about getting traded for by Brent Sutter.
There have been a string of players over the years that have been from the Red Deer area to play for the red and black. That list includes Colin Archer, Colton Bobyk, Jeff de Wit, Jason Ertl, Scott Feser, Diarmuid Kelly, Brad Leeb, Pete Vandermeer and Jon Zukiwsky. There are many more from nearby communities as well.
Tarzwell has competed nationally for Team Alberta as well as for Team Central at the Alberta Cup.
As a 15-year-old at the Alberta Cup, Tarzwell came in third in scoring for the entire tournament. He had three goals and five assists in his team’s five games. The Central team did not fare well at the event finishing last of the eight teams.
In a much lower scoring Western Canada Challenge Cup, Tarzwell added a goal and an assist in his teams four games.
When DUBNetwork spoke with Josh Tarzwell, he was already looking towards his future with the team. “I think I fit in really well, in the room there is a great group of guys. They have really accepted me into the team. I think as it goes on my role becomes more and more clear. I’m just trying to work hard and give it everything I’ve got every night.”
Heading into his draft season, he was playing on the third line for the Hurricanes. After he was brought to the Rebels he was put on the team’s third line between Austin Schellenberg and Chris Douglas. He has since found chemistry with Reese Johnson and Chris Douglas. They generally play as the team’s third unit.
Johnson and Tarzwell also kill a lot of penalties for the Rebels. They have been a main contributor to the Rebels penalty kill moving up four full percentage points in the last couple of months.
DUBNetwork asked Tarzwell what he needs to do to get drafted in June by an NHL club. “Individually I am gonna have to be the best I can be every night. Win my draws, go 70/30 and get possession and control the play in their end and our end.”
Playing on a line with Reese Johnson means you don’t often get to take faceoffs. He has participated in just 400 faceoffs to this point in the season.
“Dial it in the defensive end. We play man-on-man here and I gotta find my guy and stick to him no matter where he goes. It’s different but I like it.” Tarzwell added when asked about his defensive side of the game. Joining the Rebels was certainly a different style of game for the just turned 18-year-old. Head Coach Brent Sutter preaches a playing the right way, man-on-man style of game.
Improving is something the WHL really wants for the players as they strive to be the best development league in North America and beyond. Tarzwell understands that part of the game is to develop as a player and person, not just put up points. But, he certainly did want to add some scoring prowess to his game.
“I want to be more offensive minded in their end, I want to be thinking score. Not just get the puck around their net.” Added Tarzwell. He struggled offensively when he joined the Rebels, taking 13 games to register his first point in the red and black. In the 25 games since them he has registered six goals and five assists.
DUBNetwork also spoke with Tarzwell’s Associate Coach Jeff Truitt about his game. “He’s come here from the trade out of Lethbridge and he has fit in extremely well in the dressing room. He is a quality young man. Very studious,” Truitt said of Tarzwell.
“Systems wise he’s learning and continuing to learn what we need from him in all three zones. His shot is really good, when he gets his shot away it can be a real handful for a goalie. He’s gotta utilize it perhaps a bit more.” In what was really the only criticism Truitt gave of Tarzwell’s game.
“He’s another thick body that can bang defense and play a physical game for us,” was Truitt’s assessment of Tarzwell on fitting into the Rebel’s style of play, which is a crash and bang get under your opponents skin style.