Tyler Bunz was one of my first interviews and continues to be one of my favourite players to speak with. He is charismatic, confident and eloquent. Bunz doesn't speak from a memorised script, he doesn't need to. He seems to have it all figured out and has no problems coming up with ideas.
Bunz has had a fantastic season with the Medicine Hat tigers, after being drafted in the fifth round by the Edmonton Oilers at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles. Very likely at the time of his draft, most of you would put more stock in netminder and Oilers' prospect Olivier Roy. After the world juniors, this WHL season and the final episode of Oil Change I can only assume that you are now aware of Tyler Bunz and your interest is piqued. Bunz was ranked the number two goaltender of the WHL by Hockey's Future, much to the delight of Tigers fans, Oilers fans, and of course Bunz himself.
Bunz suffered a concussion before the playoffs began, and was not deemed healthy enough to play until the second round, when his team faced Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the rest of the Red Deer Rebels. The Tigers took that series and made it into the Eastern Conference Finals. Next, the Tigers were unfortunately swept by the Kootenay Ice and are now out of the playoff. The experience was a good one for Bunz and his teammates, and hopefully something they can build on as a team. This interview was recorded Easter weekend, Saturday April 23rd in Medicine Hat Alberta.
Tyler Bunz far left taking a breather before team warm ups.
Copper & Blue: Sweet playoff beard.
Tyler Bunz: Ya, thanks. I guess I can thank the family genes for that one. My brother grows a pretty good beard, so I guess I have the genes for that.
Copper & Blue: Very nice, and how is your head doing?
Tyler Bunz: Good! I haven't had any symptoms since, I don't know, about three weeks ago. It's been a slow recovery but I'm happy to be back in the lineup.
Tyler Bunz: I guess it was kind of that curse of the Oilers this year. It's amazing how many injuries they've gone through this year. Just obviously it's never good to go through. Personally as well, it's kind of frustrating but it's all part of the process and all a part of the game. You've just got to get through it.
Copper & Blue: Absolutely, I suppose I meant more that it was funny you two would suffer the same two injuries that took out most of the Oilers this season.
Tyler Bunz: Ya, true.
Copper & Blue: You've improved your save percentage significantly, was there anything specifically that you've done to improve?
Tyler Bunz: Ya, obviously my goals against and my save percentage have been one of those key things that I've improved as of last year. Obviously that comes with experience and consistency. I think that last year I had a lot of off games, on and off games, where I would have one good game and another bad game. I just went on with that process. This year, I can only name only two or three, maybe four, games where I wanted to have a better result but it's been one of those years where everything goes right for you. I've got a lot of that to thank the team for. They've played real well this year. We don't get wins without the team, so I've got to give them some praise as well.
Copper & Blue: Absolutely, but it was said upstairs that without you, it likely would have been 20-0 tonight.
Tyler Bunz: Well you know, it was just one of those nights where Kootenay was the better team tonight, fair and square. They came out and played their systems well and just took away our time and space. They trapped us up in the neutral zone and it was one of those games where I tried to keep the boys in it. It was like last night where they kept me in the game. Obviously it wasn't the result that we wanted. But then tonight, I come out and keep them in the game. It's just the team environment that we go through.
Copper & Blue: Are you feeling any additional pressure with this being the WHL Eastern Conference finals?
Tyler Bunz: Not really. I think maybe last year maybe last year if we would have made it that far. Just with the youth and the inexperience. It's just another hockey game that we have to go through. I try not to get too worked up about it being on TV and stuff like that. It's just going to get into your mind and take you away from the game of hockey. You've just got to focus on what you do well and just think of it as another hockey game.
Copper & Blue: I think its good practice for you.
Tyler Bunz: [laughs] I think so too. We'll just see how it goes.
Copper & Blue: So, goals for next season where do you see yourself and your team?
Tyler Bunz: I see myself back here. Obviously it's a big jump to the NHL for an 18 year old goalie and you can't play in the AHL until you're 20. So, I see myself back here. We're going to be losing some key guys here next year. I'm looking forward to it as well, I know there's going to be a few new young faces, guys that are going to be reshaping the Medicine Hat Tigers and I'll be happy to be a part of that.
Copper & Blue: You said that you had watched and enjoyed Oil Change. Did you know that you were a featured player in the most recent episode?
Tyler Bunz: Ya, actually on Twitter one of my buddies said something about me being on it. I actually didn't watch the episode; I didn't know that I was on. I went on and watched it on the website. Obviously it was pretty cool to see me and Pitts [Tyler Pitlick] and Brandon Davidson, and Drew Czerwonka and [Curtis] Hamilton. That we're all buddies from camp and just to see them all in there as well is a pretty cool experience.
Copper & Blue: Speaking of Czerwonka, you're playing against him, how's that?
Tyler Bunz: Good, we kind of get into it a little bit on the ice. We jab each other, and poke jokes at each other. It's just the game of hockey. On the ice you're going to be complete enemies and off the ice you're going to be friends. So, it's just the environment of the game of hockey.
Copper & Blue: I want to give you fair warning, I think that you were a little less known to some Oilers' fans but after this season and this episode of Oil Change, I think it's really ramped up your popularity. Are you ready for it?
Tyler Bunz: Obviously it's good to get your name out there. I think that after the season that me and the team have had I'm going to get my name out there as well. I guess it's extra pressure you don't want to think about, but it's out there. I'm just not going to let it get the best of me and I'm going to get the team back in the series.
Copper & Blue: The best of you huh, I saw your tweet about the beach bodies workout during the playoffs. What's going on here?
Tyler Bunz: [laughs] Ah.. ya, our assistant coach Joey Frazer, obviously he was on our team last year. He's known as one of the more jacked guys on the team as of last year. So I'm trying to catch up to him. I guess today, or a couple of days ago he realized that I have caught up to him, so I think I'm going to quit those and stick to leg workouts. [laughs]
Copper & Blue: I was just wondering if you were looking for an extra challenge.
Tyler Bunz: No, obviously working out is going to help you out in the long run. I've got a schedule from the Oilers that I've used all year and I work out every day with it. So I think it's helped me this year with my cardio and not being as tired. I think that last year I would have been really tired after this game. But, I feel really good after this game, just because of the schedule that they gave me and the workouts they gave me. A lot of my success goes to them as well.
Copper & Blue: I did want to compliment you on an excellent glove save five minutes into the first period. Did you have any save that you were particularly proud of?
Tyler Bunz: I don't know, I think that they were all pretty routine saves. I wish I had the first goal, that was kind of a bad goal that started the tempo off for our team wrong. I know that, and I've got to be better with that. After that I felt real calm and I think I'm happy with the game that I played, except for that goal.