By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor in Chief
A Cleveland native who seeks a championship and feels as if he’s coming home, Tyler Dalton has all the makings of a LeBron James story.
But Dalton’s story takes place on an ice rink, and on April 17, the next chapter was penned when he signed with the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
“I feel like I’ve grown up here. I’ve been playing hockey at this rink since I was like seven or eight years old. One of my first road trips was actually to this rink,” Dalton said. “Growing up playing at this rink, being here pretty much throughout my youth, I’m comfortable being here. I’m comfortable being on this campus, I’m comfortable playing at this rink.
“I think (signing here) makes a lot of sense for me. It feels like I’m kind of coming home.”
Dalton played junior league hockey for Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks and Chicago Jr. Bulldogs over the past two years. In 47 games with the Lumberjacks last season, the 20-year-old forward scored 19 goals and added 36 assists.
“I like to have the puck on my stick but not really to shoot, I’m more of a passer,” Dalton said of his play style. “I love the backdoor pass, that’s sort of my thing, and I love taking high quality shots right off the goalie’s pads and leave a nice rebound there.
“I’m a little more physical than most forwards, but somebody’s got to do it.”
Although head coach Chris Haltinner’s goals of winning a championship appealed to Dalton, UM-Dearborn’s academics were a driving force in his decision.
“Academics is always first, and I think coming to a school that’s got a great reputation like this is key,” Dalton said. “Besides academics, when I got phone with coach, the first thing out of his mouth is, ‘I want to win a national championship.’ That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to win, play competitive hockey and get a great education.”
Dalton won’t be alone at UM-Dearborn. Former Lumberjack teammate John Barlow signed alongside him on April 17. But it didn’t impact his decision to join the Wolverines.
“I was doing this regardless of him, but I’m absolutely happy he’s here,” Dalton said. “We’re going to have a great four years together. Hopefully we’ll be rooming together.”
Like many of his teammates, Dalton has lofty goals for this season.
“I’d be lying to you if I say I didn’t want to win a national championship. That’s why I’m here,” he said. “I hope to win four, that’s a crazy goal, but that’s why you strap on this jersey. You come here to win, you come here to compete every single day, and that’s my goal. Right off the bat, I want to contribute in whatever way I have to.”