By Alexis Johnson
Ice Dawgs sophomore Tyler Stewart, also known as “Stewy,” has been playing hockey ever since he could feasibly wear a pair of skates. Though the sport has “always been a part of [his] life” he credits his cousins with his initial taking to the ice.
“[My cousins] got into [hockey]. They were older than us so we always looked up to them,” Stewart said. “They gave us their hand-me-downs, so we got hand-me-down rollerblades and whatnot. We were always playing hockey when we were kids—just in the garage, outside, wherever.”
Since moving to Forsyth county, Stewart has consistently played club hockey both in his hometown and up north.
During his senior year of highschool, the forward played in Sioux Falls, South Dakota—an experience he claims made a huge impact on his playing style by teaching him to “use [his] size to [his] advantage.”
Watch any Ice Dawgs game now and you’ll quickly pick up on #18’s knack for physicality. This aspect, along with hockey’s speed, are the elements that he considers to be his favorites within the sport.
On gameday, he jokingly claimed his goals are to create “chaos” and “havoc” on the ice, but most importantly, he wants to make a difference.
“I just want to be an impact player every shift I’m out there. I don’t want to have a shift where I feel like I didn’t do anything or I didn’t make an impact on the ice,” he said.
Hailing from the Empire State himself, Stewart “has always been a Rangers fan.” He said his “impact player” strategy has recently been inspired by New York Rangers left winger Chris Kreider.
“He’s not an all-star guy, but recently he’s been a huge, impactful player for the Rangers because he knows where to be and when to be there,” Stewart said. “He’s not just out there only being physical or only scoring goals; he’s doing a good bit of both, and I like that a lot.”
Though the sophomore was practically born with a hockey stick in his hand, this is his first year as a University of Georgia Ice Dawg. He spent his freshman year at the University of North Georgia before transferring in.
Stewart always wanted to play collegiate hockey, but coming to Athens was not always on his radar. In fact, he claims doing so was “a very last minute thing.”
Planned or not, his first season with the Ice Dawgs has certainly been a memorable one. In less than a year, Stewart has already made his fair share of memories and embraced his new teammates.
“There’s something to be said about a bunch of guys just playing college hockey,” he said.
So far, some of his favorite memories have been those made in the locker room, chirps while on the ice, and of course, wrecking Georgia Tech, nine-goose.
As the Ice Dawgs hunker down for their final stretch of the regular season, Stewart has his eyes set on future postseason matchups: the SEC and National Championships, and especially the possibility of a rematch with the University of Tampa Spartans.
When he’s not making plays on the ice, Stewart is making saves in the net as the goalie for his roommates’ intramural soccer team. He jokes he “might have to quit hockey,” in order to pursue his impending “pro career” on the pitch.
Stewart spends most of his free time hitting the gym, doing calisthenics, working on homework or hanging with his roommates. However, recently, with the revival of the old map, he admits, “Fortnite with the boys has been up there in the list of [freetime] activities.”
Stewart plans on receiving a degree in Computer Science and is exploring his choices when it comes to jobs.
“There’s so many options with Computer Science,” he said. “You can go cybersecurity, you can go data science, you can go so many different routes with it, so I just wanna talk to people, figure stuff out, and see what interests me the most.”
Though his career with the Ice Dawgs has only just begun, Stewart wants to break the negative stereotypes commonly associated with athletes and be remembered as a player who was kind and authentic.
“I just wanna be someone that you can come up to, someone that’s genuine, someone that you can have a conversation with—a funny conversation with, a real conversation with. I just wanna be a genuine guy,” he explained.
He also wants his readers to know that he is “a man of many talents.” What kind of talents you may ask? The world may never know.