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Jost is RBC CJHL National Player of the Year

Paul Edmonds, Hockey Canada

Spend 20 minutes with Tyson Jost and it becomes quickly apparent why he wore the ‘C’ so often this season.

He’s driven, focused, talented, humble and well spoken. His junior coach calls him a ‘special individual’ and the list of awards and accolades he’s already received could rival the most successful players in the game.

From most valuable player honours to all-star selections, scoring titles and gold medals, it’s a catalog of hockey acclaim. And yet what’s most interesting is he’s likely just getting started.

It takes an extremely engaged and determined player to succeed in the busy environment that was this past season for Jost. Most would find the schedule, travel and expectations to be too much at times and a slip of sorts would follow.

But yet, even as a teenager, Jost flourished in representing Canada at two international tournaments, along with a full-time commitment to the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League.

“It’s been busy, and a long season,” says the 18-year-old. “But I never felt overwhelmed. It’s been an exciting year and you’ll never hear me complain about it.”

After helping Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team win the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup last August, the season really began in earnest for Jost in the fall with a return to Penticton for his sophomore Junior A season.

From there, he represented Canada West at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge last December in Cobourg and Whitby, Ont., guiding the team to gold, and again donned a Team Canada jersey at the recently-completed IIHF U18 World Championship in Grand Forks, N.D.

On all three teams Jost was the ultimate leader as captain, and it was all part of a hockey journey that involved nearly 70 games, countless practices, bus rides, plane trips and graduating from Penticton Secondary School.

And if juggling all of that wasn’t enough, there was also the extraneous pressure of this season being his draft year.

“It was definitely in the back of my mind,” he says. “How could it not be? But it didn’t affect my game. I was more focused on my team and not myself.”

It is this ability to handle the demands of an extraordinary season with aplomb while flourishing as a talented offensive player in a 200-foot game that earned Jost the RBC CJHL National Player of the Year award.

It’s a distinction shared previously by other household notables as former National Hockey League star Paul Kariya and current NHLers Joe Colborne and Kyle Turris.

“It means a lot to get recognized,” says Jost. “I was playing with a pretty special group. And that had a lot to do with my personal success. I have to give a lot of credit to Penticton. They developed me into a better person and player. And I’m playing the game I love. What’s more fun than that?”

A product of St. Albert, Alta., Jost has spent the last five seasons in the Okanagan, a place he refers to as his second home. This included two Bantam seasons at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy, and another in Midget with the Okanagan Rockets – which ended with a trip to the 2014 TELUS Cup – before joining the Vees.

At every level, he’s produced offence at a prolific pace, including this season’s 42 goals and 104 points in 48 games for Penticton to further cement his commitment to attending the University of North Dakota next season.

“He’s a special individual and pretty polished for his age,” says Vees head coach Fred Harbinson. “He makes everyone around him better. He comes through in big games.”

In nine seasons in Penticton, Harbinson admits his program has attracted a number of elite players, several of whom have moved on to post-secondary scholarships and into professional hockey. However, of that group, he maintains Jost is truly unique.

“We’re fortunate in Penticton to have high-end players every year. But when you look at guy like Tyson, he elevates himself even beyond those guys.”

In order to truly understand why Jost is a supernova on the ice with a moral compass that seemingly points perpetually in the right direction, one needs to look no further than his upbringing.

As a single mother, Laura Jost raised Tyson and his sister alone since the two were toddlers. Sure, there was extended help from Laura’s parents, but many that have come to know Tyson and his mother understand the bond and respect that goes both ways between them.

“She’s a pretty special lady,” says Tyson of his mom. “We have a special connection.”

This includes a love for hockey; Laura is said to have an excellent understanding of the game, with a drive to succeed and commitment to fitness that has been passed down to her son both inherently and by example.

Harbinson shares a story of when Tyson was 15 years old and attending a rookie camp with the Vees. As the family arrived early to the rink and was milling around waiting for it to open, Laura Jost used the time wisely by conducting her daily workout in the parking lot as the coach pulled up.

“He gets his drive from his mother,” says Harbinson. “He is who he is because of her and, of course, the grandparents.”

As a player, Jost’s skill-set is above average. According to Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects, he’s a “crafty goal scorer that sees the ice very well and has a willingness and determination to win battles in the tough areas.”

Simply put, it’s that competitiveness that separates Jost from most others even though his size isn’t overwhelming at six-feet and 190 pounds. But it’s this trait that is foundation to his success and why he’s is projected to be selected in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Jost admits he doesn’t pay much attention to where the pundits have him penciled to be picked, but he knows it will be special day for himself and his family. They’ll attend the festivities in Buffalo on June 24 and celebrate his impending selection together.

“For (my mom) to watch me walk up on that podium, I’m sure she’ll be pretty emotional. And for my grandfather too; he’s been a father figure for me. It’s important for them to be part of this.”

According to Harbinson, whichever team selects Jost this summer will be getting a great player and even better person.

“There’s 24 hours in a day and he’s a kid that when he goes to bed he’s dreaming about being a hockey player and the hours that he’s awake he’s always trying to be a better hockey player.

“The consistency of his maturity will carry him a long way. He’s close to being a great package. I don’t think he’ll change. Fifteen years from now he’ll be the same. I believe he has the ability to not just play in the National Hockey League, but be a star in the National Hockey League.”

And probably as a captain.