It only took two days for Tyler Jette to decide he wanted to play for the Tri-City Americans.
The native of Farmington, Minn., signed with the Americans on Monday and practiced Tuesday with his new team.
“They were looking at me, and I didn’t get any college offers,” Jette said. “I thought this was the best fit for me and my game. I was here a couple of weeks ago to see what the league was all about. They were very welcoming. It’s like a family.”
Jette, 18, watched a preseason game before returning to Minnesota. Last Saturday, he and his family watched the Americans’ season opener against Spokane via the internet, and he was hooked.
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“It was a pretty intense game,” Jette said. “I liked the physicality of it. I’m more of a physical guy, and that got me into penalty trouble in high school.”
With top defenseman Parker Wotherspoon still at the the New York Islanders camp, Tri-City coach Mike Williamson is happy to have more help on the back end.
“We are excited,” Williamson said. “Bob (Tory, general manager) and Barclay (Parneta, head scout) have been able to see Tyler play. We hoped he’d show up to training camp, but he came in a couple of weeks ago and skated. We think it will be a good fit. High school hockey is a bit different. He’s kind of jumping in the deep end. It will take some time to see where his game is at. He has a good frame and can play both ends of the rink.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Jette had quite an impressive résumé coming out of high school.
He was one of 10 finalists for the Mr. Hockey Award, given to the most outstanding high school player in Minnesota as voted on by NHL scouts, junior hockey scouts and coaches. Jette averaged a point per game his senior year with the Farmington Tigers, scoring five goals with 17 assists.
Jette also earned a nomination for the Reed Larson award, which is given to the top high school defenseman in the state. The nominees are judged on academics, community/extra-curricular activities, citizenship, coachability and on-ice performance.
The Americans listed Jette in November and kept a close eye on him.
“He has a huge upside,” Tory said. “He is a very good skater and has a good offensive side. Once he gets comfortable, he will be a good asset. There will be an adjustment coming from high school. We have had a few kids from Minnesota, but it’s a tough sell in that state.”
Jette said he was excited to get on the ice Tuesday and show his new teammates what he has to offer.
“I’m looking forward to learning from them and trying to beat them out for a spot. I’m a two-way player. I can stay at home, but I’ll jump up if I see a lane for me,” he said.
Jette said he was familiar with former Americans player Jake Riddle (2002-04), who also is from Minnesota, but he had no idea players like Carey Price, Stu Barnes, Olie Kolzig and others got their start with Tri-City.
“I had no idea what players had come out of here,” Jette said. “It’s an unreal feeling to play where they have played.”