Tyler Gardiner, one of the leaders of Watertown High School’s successful boys hockey team, will keep his dream of playing in college alive by playing for a year with the Boston Junior Rangers of the Eastern Hockey League.
Gardiner recently signed with the Junior Rangers’ Premier team, the higher of the two levels. He said this is a typical path to playing hockey in college.
“Most colleges don’t take kids under 21. They go to the juniors or have a year of prep school,” Gardiner said. “Juniors is a little higher level than high school. The kids are faster, older and more skilled. Hopefully it will help me adjust to the level of college hockey.”
The Boston Junior Rangers play in the North Conference of the EHL, which includes teams from around the Boston area, New Hampshire and Vermont. The South Conference has teams from New York, Connecticut and the Philadelphia area.
The team is based at Tewksbury’s Breakaway Ice Center, so Gardiner will live at home and commute to practices and games.
“Hopefully I will still be playing left wing,” he said.
High School Career
In March, Gardiner wrapped up a successful high school career, though he said it ended on a bitter note as the Raiders’ quest for back-to-back state titles ended in overtime against Wayland in the North Section final.
“Thinking about the last year it was bittersweet,” Gardiner said. “It was bitter last year because we didn’t achieve our goal. It is sweet because I get to move on to something new, meet new people and have new challenges.”
With the Raiders, Gardiner played on the first line with Tyler Poulin and Mike Giordano, fellow members of the Class of 2016. When they were juniors, they provided much of the offense for the team that claimed Watertown’s first state championship.
“We had a good four years,” Gardiner said. “We’re is a very winning group.”
Their achievements were noticed. Gardiner and Poulin recently were named Middlesex League All-Stars, and in early April Gardiner was named the Middlesex League’s Boston Bruins-MIAA Sportsmanship Award Winner. He and the other were honored at the TD Garden on April 5.
The award is given for following the rules of the game, being respectful to opponents and officials, and “a record of conduct, on and off the ice that brings honor to self, team, school, and community.”
His coach, Mike Hayes, said Gardiner is well deserving of the honor.
“Tyler approaches school, sports and life with a high level of commitment, dedication, passion and positivity. His leadership is shown on and off the ice, he makes his teammates better players by the way he approaches and respects the game,” Hayes said. “Tyler is an exceptional young man, with maturity beyond his years, he has helped change the culture of Watertown High hockey.”
Gardiner said he has a few colleges in mind that he would like to play for. However, hockey is not the only thing on his mind.
“I am looking for schools with a major of exercise science,” Gardiner said. “Education is more important than playing in college.”
Most of the schools he is looking at are in New England, he said.