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SWHL sees retirement of longest-serving player Tyson Wuttunee

Lifelong friendships forged, multiple memories made and feeling like the time is right, Tyson Wuttunee will play his final game for the Kerrobert Tigers as their season winds down

KERROBERT — The Kerrobert Tigers hockey club will hold a special tribute to their captain, No. 71, Tyson Wuttunee, at will possibly be his last home game Feb. 12.

Wuttunee has always loved hockey and from a young age he was sought for his talent on the ice. He started playing at a higher, competitive level in his early teens and entered the triple A ranks around age 16, and tells the Press-Herald / that although he appreciated all of the experiences he had elsewhere, he was a home body and never liked playing far from home. He says he knew there were still competitive options available to him.

His long resumé of hockey experience includes a variety of leagues and divisions, a complete list from 1996 on listed under elite prospects online, but one commitment he is most proud of is being the longest-serving player in the senior hockey ranks with the SWHL, racking up 20 years, most of them with the Kerrobert Tigers.

The Tigers encourage fans to pack the barn Feb. 12 and see another jersey, No. 71, added to the epic wall of banners.

Wuttunee’s wife Robbi, posts on social media, “It’s official, after 10 years of Tyson Wuttunee saying 'just one more year,' he is retiring from the game that has brought so much to his life. It is bittersweet and I feel so lucky the girls and I have been able to watch him play for so long. I only wish the girls could have seem him when he was 21. … we are currently averaging about 10 games a weekend in our house. The girls' love for the game keeps growing, along with their hectic schedules.”

When interviewed, Wuttunee was quick to offer praise to his wife for enduring his long career stating, “she is a beauty and I love what she has done with our kids, and the unending support given.”

His stat sheet is lengthy and although he would modestly shy away from questions about his personal achievements during our interview, he has amassed scoring titles and championships. The one thing he said he was most proud of is longevity in the game. At age 42, Wuttunee says he knows he could keep playing as he has committed to being in top physical condition, but wanted to exit on a high note before injury or perhaps even illness caught up with him.

“I am so proud of my older son, playing in the Manitoba junior A league and my three girls, ages 11, 9, 7, all who have that competitive drive. I coach Berkley who plays with a competitive girls' team in Dodsland.”

Decision did not come easy

The decision to hang up the skates was pondered for a couple of years, but Wuttunee tells the says when the West Central Rage folded in Kerrobert and a number of young guys came on board the Tigers senior team, he knew he was leaving the team in good hands. He had mentored these players before and he knew it was time to wrap it up as a player.

“It’s kind of surreal that kids that used to watch in the stands are now playing or I played with their dads or dad’s dad.”

Wuttunee wants to step into a coaching role. His girls play spring hockey and competitive female hockey and he feels he has something to offer them, and their teams, in experience and hockey knowledge.

“I am definitely feeling emotional about being done, especially with Kerrobert. I came out of junior to play there. I know deep down its time to hang up the skates and let other people step into that position.”

Wuttunee said some of his biggest hockey takeaways included the inaugural Fred Sasakamoose national championships that included Indigenous players from around Canada. H helped his team win three of five years he played in it, including the past year. He was the first MVP of this tournament and, playing with the Red Pheasant Rebels, they repeated again the next year.

Wuttunee grew up in Saskatoon and when he played Bantam AA hockey out of the Battlefords, he moved to Red Pheasant with his dad, and went to Cando School. He moved into North Battleford again, attending North Battleford Comprehensive High School, playing a higher calibre of hockey.

He talked of his admiration for the senior men’s league and of the calibre of hockey players in it. He recalls elite scorers like Kelsey Muench and now Brock Harrison of the Wilkie Outlaws. He has a friendship with Harrison, as Wuttunee grew up with his brother Brett in the Battlefords. He also played with Martin Smith when he was in the league.

League is different but calibre is still strong

“The league now is so different. When I first started, I used to have bruises all over my arms after a game, and it’s not as physical now. I have been told this could be out of respect for me, now, I guess. It used to be that the rink was packed and its where everyone went on the weekend and would stay there late at night," says Wuttunee

“I don’t care about titles, a paycheque or the glory, I want to win," he says.

"Scoring titles weren’t things to me. I just love to play and that one goal and that one pass is all that I would look forward to and recount after the game.”

Offering his insight on to what might bring senior hockey back into the forefront, Wuttunee says, “I think being involved in the community, as a whole team, and building a partnership with the community’s minor hockey has a big impact. This league is as good as any semi-pro league and we have some of the best players, and some really high calibre hockey being played, and that seems to be underappreciated. Of course, COVID-19 has impacted this but I want to do what I can to fill the rinks again.”

Wuttunee says when he finally decided it was time to walk away, he knew he had earned the respect of Kerrobert and Tigers fans. Wearing the “C” was a big honor and he felt it showed him respect and value and it was an honour very dear to his heart. He told his team towards the end of the season of his decision to retire and said he was not even swayed when the chant started in the dressing room of “one more year” as he knew deep down it was time. And, he says he knows he is ready to help the next generation, in whatever team he is serving with, win a championship.

Tigers fans say there is no doubt Wuttunee still has the heart, talent and desire to play, as he scored four points against Kyle in their provincial game and was still flying hard for the team on the following Sunday’s home game.

2022 will still bring two more big events for Wuttunee as he has committed to playing in two big cash tournaments and then this summer, he will be finished hockey as a player. The emotion and pride were evident in his voice as the interview was coming to a conclusion.

Much has changed for Wuttunee in 20 years but the love of hockey and pride in what he has accomplished will be with him forever. He knows the Feb. 12 ceremony will be a rollercoaster of emotions as he will have all of his family there and he has heard of some of the gestures being presented and that there may be a surprise or two. He says he is honoured the arena he has called home for many years and the team he was proud to be part of will always be in his heart and he acknowledges the Tigers hockey club and community for celebrating his retirement with him.

Wuttunee concludes the interview with a quote from interim coach of the Winnipeg Jets, Dave Lowry he says he feels represents his situation, “You stick to your beliefs and your ideals. If you get one chance at it, put everything on the table. You don’t want to leave with any regrets.”


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