Photo by Rena Laverty
There is one lesson that defenseman Tyler Inamoto has taken to heart from first year U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 Coach John Wroblewski.
It sounds like a simple thing, but it has definitely helped him during his second season with the team.
“Attention to detail and complete everything to the best of your ability. That is one of the biggest lessons I have learned,” explained Inamoto.
Inamoto, a 6-foot-2, 196-pounder, has been watching his game grow this season due in part to taking his coach’s advice to heart.
“Adjusting to the bigger, faster, stronger guys and being able to read and diagnose plays,” he cited as keys to the growth of his game. “I’m trying to keep my game simple and do what I do best. Playing hard. I want to be hard to play against in my own zone.”
He also credits watching video, which is all about the details, as another part of that game improvement.
“It gives me another view of the ice,” the Barrington, Illinois, native explained. “It has helped my game if I get into a situation and I really didn’t know what I needed to do, now I can read the play a lot better and make the easy play. It has really helped my decision-making and reaction time.”
In addition, he credits the adversity from the Under-17 season as a big reason this year’s U18s have found a way to have success on the ice.
“All the adversity we have been through is a big reason,” he said. “The first year was rough on us and we didn’t do as well as people thought we would. I think by coming to the rink every day and hanging out after practice, we were able to create a strong bond together and it has taken off from there.”
“We are definitely bigger, faster and stronger. More than that, our team has really jelled together from last year and we are on a roll right now.”
Inamoto even had an opportunity to play against his future college team — the University of Wisconsin — on Oct. 21. Despite the 4-3 loss, he had a fantastic time and it gave him some insight on what it will be like next year when he suits up for the Badgers.
“It was unreal to get the college atmosphere and what I am going to be playing in next year,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I was really pumped to be there. It’s always nice to play against your future teammates.
“I kind of gave [former NTDP player] Trent Frederic a little push. He turned around and said, ‘Don’t touch me again or I’ll make your year next year a pain.’”
In addition, Inamoto understands just how important it is to have played college games when he makes the jump next year.
“It will make it easier because it is a big jump from junior to colleges and balancing school work and hockey,” he said. “It gave all of us a taste of the college level — the physicality, strength and speed of the players. We will have an advantage over other guys on how to train for that and what to expect next year.”
At this point, Inamoto is focused on just one thing — wearing the colors of Team USA for another few weeks.
“Words don’t describe it,” he stated. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to represent your country and I definitely don’t take it lightly. I come to the rink every day with the mindset that I have to earn the right to wear this jersey. I do whatever I can to help this team and will represent my country to the best of my ability.”
Inamoto and his U18 teammates won their first two international tournaments — the Five Nations in Plymouth and the Five Nations in Sweden — but they have won big one left, the U18 Worlds in the Czech Republic later this month. Inamoto understands what they need to do to have success on a goal this team has been working on.
“It was extremely important to get those first two wins,” he said. “It gave us a confidence boost. It has helped us bring our game to another level.
“We need to keep working hard until we start playing and continue to work hard during the games. Overall, we have to take care of our bodies. We need to eat right, sleep and continue to come to the rink with the attitude that we will do whatever it takes to win. We have to prepare ourselves.”
One of his favorite memories from this season was a 5-4 overtime win against Sweden on their home soil in February. There are a few reasons, both positive and negative, on why it as such a good memory.
“Winning in Sweden in the finals against Sweden was one of my best memories,” explained Inamoto. “I took a penalty and the boys responded really well. They scored on us, unfortunately, but we kept at it and we were faced with an obstacle and we went through it. Everybody kept pushing and the result was we won. That was a fond memory that the boys rallied around me because I was not happy with what I did. They picked me up.”
And for Inamoto, it was a small and valuable lesson learned.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc
Photo by Rena Laverty
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