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Ty Wishart skating with Wild Wings
This year's Comox Cup Road Hockey Tournament featured a player whose hockey career has included some far-ranging road trips.
Ty Wishart, drafted 16th overall in 2006 by the San Jose Sharks and who spent time with both the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders, is back in the Comox Valley for the summer and was happy to renew acquaintances with many friends at the Comox Cup.
After being waived by the Islanders in January 2013, Wishart signed with the Schwenninger Wild Wings of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) in Germany in August 2013.
He said he had a great first season in the DEL. "I absolutely loved it," the 26-year-old said while relaxing in the beer garden after his team had been eliminated in the Comox Cup semifinals.
"I absolutely love the lifestyle. The team is great. They set you up with a house and a car. It's awesome."
Wishart was living near the Swiss-German border, just a few hours away from another Comox Valley minor hockey product – Brett McLean – who is having just as much fun playing for Lugano in the Swiss-A League.
Wishart is certainly no stranger to the international game. He was with the 2005 Canadian team that won gold at the U18 Junior World Cup in the Czech Republic and captained the 2006 Canadian team that finished fourth at the IIHF World U18 Championships in Sweden.
Before the 2014-15 DEL season gets underway Sept. 12, Wishart will be on the road again with Team Canada as he heads to Australia for the Douglas Webber Cup – an annual event that pits Canada against the United States.
"(Australia has) a pro league they're trying to promote," Wishart said, noting it's always an intense rivalry when Canada takes on the U.S. in hockey.
The July 11-26 tour includes two games in Perth and one each in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. With many NHL and AHL players taking part, Wishart says the competition is keen and the rinks are always full.
Wishart is enjoying his two summer months in the Valley. "I love it here. I usually only get back for two weeks at a time if I'm lucky."
He was clearly enjoying seeing old friends at the Comox Cup. "I grew up with all these guys. It's pretty cool to see them again," said Wishart, who was busy signing autographs between games.
At six-foot, four-inches, Wishart is an imposing presence either on the street or on the ice. Which explains why he had to crouch down in the background when he photobombed the Red 21 team as they were having their team photo taken with the Comox Cup on Sunday.
A fun end to a fun weekend of road hockey before it's time to head out on the road to the more serious world of pro puck.