Brandon’s Tyler Dittmer is flying south for the rest of the winter.
After finishing his final season of Canadian university hockey with the Manitoba Bisons, the 25-year-old left-winger has signed with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades and is scheduled to catch a flight to join the club tomorrow.
Following the disappointment of being eliminated by the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West semifinals, Dittmer is anxious to get back on the ice and begin a new chapter in his hockey career.
"Definitely, it’s a quick turnaround finishing the season last Sunday (Feb. 23) and turning pro now; it’s very exciting," said Dittmer, who had a four-goal game in the Bisons’ first-round playoff series victory over the Regina Cougars that helped earn him the nod as the Canada West male athlete of the week.
"I think I am ready now and more mature and it’s just exciting. I can’t wait to get there."
The 5-foot-10 centre/left-winger — a graduate of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings — was named a Canada West second-team all-star this season after finishing third in team scoring and sixth place in the conference with 28 points, including 15 goals, in 26 games. Dittmer could make his ECHL debut with the Everblades (29-20-4-6) on the road Friday night versus the Fort Wayne Comets.
Dittmer had a short stint in pro hockey overseas in Germany in 2008 after finishing his final season with the Wheat Kings, but left the team in December and enrolled at U of M.
"I just think I was a bit too young for that," said Dittmer, who fired 32 goals and notched 58 points in 62 games with the Wheat Kings in 2007-08. "Going to school for five years has helped me mature and now I am definitely ready. … I think going to a situation like that has made me more prepared for it this time."
Dittmer joins an Everblades team that serves as the ECHL affiliate for both the Carolina Hurricanes and the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, as well as the Tampa Bay Lightning and their AHL farm club, the Syracuse Crunch. A strong finish to the season could give Dittmer the chance to move up to the next level.
"Definitely it’s nice to have a direct line to an (NHL) organization and it gives you something to work towards," Dittmer said. "If everything works out and I can keep climbing and get to the AHL, that would obviously be a huge goal. But if it doesn’t work out, I’ve got five years of schooling, so either way I’m excited."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 6, 2013