Monday, December 31, 2012

Morley Excelling in Alaska

2012 has been a year of change for Tyler Morley. The former captain of the Surrey Eagles wrapped up his junior career after the Birds’ playoff loss to the Powell River Kings in April, and in the fall, the Burnaby native made the move north to Fairbanks, Alaska to play for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks in the NCAA’s Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

After four years with the Eagles, the transition to college hockey was an adjustment for Morley, but he has adapted well, posting six goals and four assists in his first 18 games – good enough for second on his team in scoring.

“It’s been a big adjustment with big expectations and lots of pressure, but it’s been really good,” said Morley. “It’s a lot faster hockey, but I’ve had really good support from the coaching staff, and they have a really good program. I’m really happy with everything so far.”

While Morley is focused on achieving his goals on the ice, he now has the added responsibility of balancing hockey with school. As a freshman, the 21-year-old is working towards a degree in business.

“You go from junior where you don’t really worry about school, and you can just focus on hockey, but now you have to focus on your priorities and have time management skills. The coach wants us to have at least a 2.8 GPA, and I think our team average this year is a 3.2 which is really high, so it’s good for the program that everyone is focused on school and everyone helps each other.”

Although the jump to college hockey has been a big change in Morley’s life, the move to Alaska has its own unique challenges, including the team’s travel schedule. The Nanooks fly down to the United States almost every other week during the season for away games, sometimes traveling as far as Florida, and every road game comes with at least a four hour time difference.

“It’s definitely different,” said Morley. “Flying everywhere is quite a luxury. It’s fun. We leave for road trips on Tuesday nights, so we’re with the guys all week. It’s really a different atmosphere than some other schools where they just bus to a game on a Thursday. We’re together all week from Tuesday onwards every other week.”

Morley might never have played in Alaska if not for a big decision prior to his final year in Surrey. He had originally committed to attend Merrimack College along with his younger brother Brandon, but the two siblings opted to de-commit, a decision that Morley is very happy he made.

“It’s something I’ll never regret,” he said. “Looking back on it, it was a tough decision, especially being a 20-year-old in the BCHL. I just stuck with my gut and had support from family, friends and the Eagles, and it turned out to be the best decision.”

The Nanooks currently sit in eighth in the CCHA with a record of 4-7-3-1.

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