Tyler Madden has had a lot of practice putting on uniforms, starting when he could barely walk and put on the colors of his father’s New Jersey Devils.
Now 18, he has shown in the past month that he can excel no matter what uniform he’s wearing.
Madden, who continued a productive rookie season in the United States Hockey League that has included a trade and playing for Team USA at the World Junior A Challenge, scored two goals Tuesday night while leading the East to a 4-3 win in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at his new home rink in Kearney, Nebraska.
“It’s been exciting, so it’s been fun,” said Madden, who was selected as the East’s Most Valuable Player and the game’s No. 1 star after scoring the game-winner with 4:08 remaining.
Madden lived in Connecticut as an infant while his father shuttled back and forth between the National Hockey League’s Devils and their top affiliate, the American Hockey League’s Albany River Rats.
When John Madden established himself with the Devils, where he won three Stanley Cups and played 712 of his 898 career NHL games, Tyler was ready to learn his father’s game.
“As soon as I could walk, I was on the ice with my dad in New Jersey and I had my own Devils uniform,” Madden said. “It’s nice to have a dad so invested in hockey and it was great growing up with that.”
With the latest opportunity his own budding career has created, Tyler had a pregame talk with John, currently the head coach of the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters.
“He coaches now, so he knows exactly what to say to players and he’s good with that,” Madden said. “It’s kind of a special bond. He knows when to get on me and when to leave me alone.
“He gave me some real good advice before the game. … His being around the game translates into how I play hockey now.”
Tyler Madden made a quick impact.
Madden gave the East a 2-0 lead at 9:07 of the second period on assists from Alexander Steeves and Ben Copeland.
“It was a little turnover in the neutral zone and Copeland bounced one into the far corner with a great chip,” said Madden, who is completing high school studies online and is committed to play at Northeastern University. “Steeves went and got it and there was nobody in front of me so I kind of just drove to the net.
“Steeves made a great one-time play to the net.”
West goalie Jake Kucharski, a World Junior A Challenge teammate, stopped Madden’s initial attempt, but couldn’t corral the rebound as Madden knocked it in.
The West rallied to a 3-3 tie in the latest installment of a game that produced 17 National Hockey League Entry Draft picks in 2017.
Madden led the game-deciding response by the East. He became the third straight Tri-City Storm player to be an MVP in the game.
Steeves and Copeland, the game’s second star with two assists, also helped set up the second goal.
“Steeves made a great play at the blue line and Copey took it wide and threw one out in front,” Madden said. “I caught it on my backhand and just spun and shot because I didn’t have any other play.
“It just trickled in. I got a little lucky there, but they don’t ask how, they ask how many.”
Madden is third among USHL rookie scorers. He had six goals and eight assists in 18 games with the Central Illinois Flying Aces.
After changing teams in December, Madden has four goals and an assist in five games for the Storm.
“This is the first year I’ve done it, but the transition hasn’t been real hard for me,” Madden said. “I knew some of the guys on the team coming in. They welcomed me pretty well and we started clicking right away.”
Madden learned he had gotten the trade he was seeking from Storm coach Anthony Noreen, a Team USA assistant, while they were both in Nova Scotia for the World Junior A Challenge.
“We didn’t talk about it too much up there because we had one goal in mind, which was to win gold,” Madden said.
While the Americans came up just short at the tournament with a silver medal, Madden had three goals and an assist in four games.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc. Photo courtesy of Brandon Anderson.