January 3, 2012
By Tom Robinson
Special to USAHockey.com
Tom Winkler was still trying to find the 25 players who would form the first Gillette Wild team last season when he invited Tyler Cavan to a tryout.
Winkler did not hesitate to say yes when Cavan asked if he could bring a friend. That turned out to be a good decision.
Cavan, who Winkler originally had seen at a North American Hockey League tryout in Chicago, and Taylor Motsinger showed off their individual abilities and the knack for playing together that they had developed from the time they were 6 years old in Highlands Ranch, Colo.
“Tyler and Taylor came waltzing through the door and basically put on a clinic for the next two days,” Winkler said. “When you play with someone that long, you develop that uncanny chemistry.”
As he watched, it became clear to Winkler that he had located the heart of his American West Hockey League expansion franchise going into its 2011-12 debut.
That day, he decided on Cavan as his first captain. When the two childhood friends decided to accept Winkler’s offer and make the move together (they now live together in Wyoming), the Wild also had found the AWHL Offensive Player of the Year in Motsinger.
They have not slowed down.
Motsinger and Cavan rank 1-2 in the AWHL in scoring in their second season and the Wild has moved from a .500, fourth-place team in its first season to a winning team that is a point out of second place with an 18-7-0-1 record.
Motsinger was a recent graduate of Arapahoe High School, preparing to start college and hoping to just find a club team to be able to keep playing hockey. After Cavan, who had played a half-season with Boulder in the Western States Hockey League, told him about another option, Motsinger made a last-minute change of plans that has opened college hockey opportunities for both players.
“I didn’t know much about it, but after the first couple of weeks, I was very happy I did it,” Motsinger said.
With Matt Rose filling the left wing, Motsinger at center and Cavan on right wing, the Wild has had a top line in place throughout its two seasons.
“We have a lot of chemistry together,” Motsinger said, “especially with Tyler, playing together for the last 10 years. We know where each other are. We know what each other are going to do.
“We’ve been really good friends and teammates for years.”
Motsinger and Cavan first started playing together in the Littleton Hawks program more than a decade ago. Motsinger won a national title with the Hawks on the Peewee AA level and two state high school championships at Arapahoe.
Cavan attended a different high school and graduated a year earlier. Back together on the ice, they are thriving.
“It’s not selfish at all,” Cavan said. “We don’t care how we score as long as we get it in the net.”
Cavan leads the league in total goals — 29 in 26 games — and game-winners with five. Motsinger leads in points (64) and assists (38). He runs the point on the power play and leads the league in short-handed goals (four) and assists (seven).
Cavan credits Motsinger’s speed and “magic” play-making abilities.
“My biggest strength is my shot,” Cavan said. “I’ve shot the puck twice, maybe three times, as much as last year.
“I try to use my positioning. I’m not the fastest guy or the biggest hitter.”
The two friends from Colorado have proven to be a big hit in Wyoming.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.