NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — It’s been an emotional season for the Burrell Buccaneers and sophomore forward Tyler Stewart.
There was sadness at the community’s loss of police officer Brian Shaw, the feeling of accomplishment after a charity game raised money and brought the community together, the pain of playing through injury and illness over the season, and the individual and team accomplishments of a 10-4 start for the Bucs and 36 goals over that span for Stewart.
While he and the Buccaneers have certainly had fun along the way, the sophomore leading the team while the Bucs chase a PIHL Division 2 title also comes with a good amount of pressure to perform.
Sunday at RMU Island Sports Center, all of that was stripped away, as Stewart and his Burrell teammates skated in the 2018 PIHL Division 2 All-Star game and could focus on just having fun.
Of course, fun for competitive hockey players also involves trying to win, and Stewart had the game-winning goal and two assists, while teammate Noah Schroeder had a goal and an assist to help the Blue Team to a 5-3 victory.
“At first, I just went out and I was messing around with my friends and then we thought, well, we’re actually in a game, so we might as well try and have fun at the same time,” Stewart said. It was just a cool experience to be out there on the ice with my friends at the all-star game.”
Schroeder and Stewart were joined by defensemen Bryce Schueler and Nathan Smith and head coach Max Rickard on the Blue Team, and it was a positive, fun experience, for what has been a roller coaster season.
“It’s just been a bunch of mixed emotions,” Stewart said. “With Officer Shaw, I was pretty sad, but then we had the charity game for him, which was good. It helped for our community. … It’s been ups and downs.”
Stewart faced some individual difficulty, as well. He played through Burrell’s game on Jan. 22 against Elizabeth Forward while dealing with a stomach bug. He was so sick that he had to find a place to lie down in between periods. The closest one he could find was the top of a net.
“I had the stomach flu and I was still playing,” Stewart said. “My friends were joking about it.”
After Stewart got off the net, he put one in the net, as he scored his second goal of the game as an overtime winner for the Buccaneers. His offense has been pivotal to Burrell’s run and they currently sit in second place in PIHL’s Division 2. But he’s not going to be satisfied with the status quo when the season resumes Monday against Trinity.
“I want our team to go further and try for the championship.”