High school hockey spotlight: Tyler Stepke
Tyler Stepke, sr., G (Mars)
One of the top goaltenders in the PIHL, Stepke led Class A last season with a 0.924 save percentage and also ranked high with a 1.27 goals-against average. With those kinds of numbers, the senior has been one of the key pieces in Mars' back-to-back Penguins Cup championships. He helped the Planets get off to a strong start in their quest for a three-peat by posting a shutout in last week's season opener — 7-0 win against Central Valley. This weekend, he's in San Jose with the Pittsburgh Viper Stars 18-under AAA team for a North American Prospects Hockey League showcase.
Your team won the St. Margaret's preseason tournament, defeating some top teams from outside of Class A. What kind of boost does that give you entering the season?
"We know we're comparable to the best teams in Western Pa. Because of that, we should be able to compete in every game we play this season. We had some players missing, too, so we know we can still beat team if they're not there."
What skills to you need to be a top goaltender?
"You've got to stay focused. Some games, I'll see five shots, six shots, and they don't come at once. It can get boring, but I've got to stay focused."
Are there any goaltenders you look up to in the NHL?
"I like (Chicago goaltender) Marty Turco because he can play the puck so well. He's like a third defenseman back there. He doesn't conform to the goaltenders in the NHL right now."
Is it tough having the bull's-eye on you every night, knowing that everyone wants to beat the champs?
"I know the bull's-eye is pretty big. Last year, Knoch beat us, and I haven't forgotten about it since. We can't have any off nights. It's fun that we're the team to beat, but it's tough having that pressure."