Prior to every game he plays, Dylan St. Cyr has a ritual. He absolutely must make a glove save on the last shot during warmup, then he drops the puck and skates out of his crease. Judging by how good he is, despite being barely into his teens, the routine seems to be working pretty well for him.
St. Cyr is a 14-year-old playing for one of the top midget teams in North America: Detroit HoneyBaked. In the recent Silver Stick Championship tournament in Whitby, Ont., he backstopped his team to the championship by posting five straight shutouts. He led HoneyBaked to a national bantam championship last season and is a rising star among American-born goalies.
Like a lot of good hockey players, he possesses excellent genes. His father, Gerry, was once a star in the Western League and played five years of pro hockey in the minors. Now, most would automatically think the good bloodlines would naturally flow from Dad. But what a lot of people don’t know about the goalie is he’s also the son of Manon Rheaume, a women’s goaltending pioneer, a former world women’s champion and Olympian, and the first woman to appear in an NHL pre-season game.
Twenty-one years after playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Rheaume, 41, looks pretty much the same. But now she’s a hockey mom who can legitimately provide tips to her hockey-playing sons. “I see a lot of myself when I watch him play,” Rheaume said. “Making a glove save at the end of every warmup, I used to do exactly the same thing. And I never even told him about that. It’s a little bit scary, actually.”
The mother also sees other similarities when she watches her son play. Growing up in Quebec, Rheaume was always the only girl on her elite teams and felt she had to overcome the gender bias by working even harder to prove she belonged. St. Cyr, on the other hand, has played up a year on every team of which he has been a part and has had to earn every bit of playing time he has received.
About the only knock against St. Cyr is that he’s currently not much bigger than his mother. At 5-foot-7 and 156 pounds, he doesn’t fit the mold of today’s big butterfly goaltender, but his father is six-feet tall and Dylan still has time to grow.
Like Martin Brodeur, St. Cyr manages to keep a high concentration level despite the low number of pucks he faces. And he’s definitely a gamer. Anyone who can post five shutouts in a tournament – the second time he’s done that this season – is someone who can be relied upon in big games. He points to his mother’s influence, saying she worked with him on technique, but her tutelage was far more valuable when it came to dealing with the mental aspects of the game. “I love big games,” St. Cyr said. “I don’t know what it is about them, but that’s where I really seem to shine. I definitely love the pressure of those games.”
St. Cyr was born in Las Vegas and has grown up in suburban Detroit. With both of his parents born in Canada, he holds dual citizenship, but considers himself an American for hockey purposes. The Ontario League will hold his major junior draft rights – when he’s eligible in 2015 – but he’s unsure of his future.
One thing he is certain about is that he wants to play on the U.S. National Team Development Program, but he’s a year away from joining the under-17 team. And he’ll only be able to play in the United States League next season if he’s deemed an exceptional player, so it may be another year of dominating the competition at the minor midget level. It would mark the first time St. Cyr has played with his age group. “We’ll see where I fit in,” St. Cyr said. “That’s a decision I’m going to have to make later.”