By Dan Saevig
TOLEDO, Ohio – When Doug Teskey and Clyde Tuyl finally found common ground, it was frozen.
Years later, theirs is still probably the only mid-winter thaw the tiny Northern Ontario city of Dryden has ever enjoyed.
Goaltender Teskey, the Toledo Storm’s go-to guy for most of this season, was a toddler of 3 when his parents – college sweethearts at the University of Western Ontario – divorced.
Four years later, after stops in Australia with his mother and in Florida with his father, Teskey returned to Canada to live with his mom, Dee, and her soon-to-be new husband, Clyde Tuyl.
The weather wasn’t nearly as warm as it was in Tampa, and neither was Doug’s reaction to the new man in Dee’s life.
“We butted heads,” Teskey said. “For five years, maybe more.”
Like father, like son wouldn’t apply in this case.
Like stepfather, like son wouldn’t either, especially since the child didn’t always like to see eye-to-eye with the new man in his life.
Their relationship was as icy as the long Canadian winter.
“In the case of a second marriage, the children blame the new man in the picture for the breakup,” Dee Tuyl said. “He had it against Clyde for a number of years.”
Kids normally rebel in their teens. Doug started at 7.
“He was a young lad that’d been bounced around a bit,” Clyde Tuyl said. “He goes into a small town, and asks, ‘What am I doing here?’’’
In many parts of Canada, kids pick up the sticks and gloves at the age of 3 or 4.
By the time Doug finally started, he was 10 or 11. There was some catching up to do, at the rink and with one of the coaches of his home team – Clyde Tuyl.
It was the new man in Dee’s life who first put blades on the feet of Doug and his older brother James. Clyde, the athletic director at Lakehead University, was heavily involved in the sport as a coach at the AAA midget (14-15 year-old) level.
“The decision to play was his,” Clyde Tuyl said. “I told him, ‘If you want to play, I’ll encourage and support you. If you do play, have fun while you’re playing.’’’
But in order to have fun, there were priorities.
If Doug didn’t get his homework done, there would be no hockey games on the weekend. If the youngster didn’t get to bed on time, he’d be cooling his heels instead of warming up on the practice sheet the next day.
“He never pushed me,” Teskey said. “He just knew what was good for me. When you’re that young you don’t realize it.”
Teskey doesn’t know exactly when it happened. It may have been he was about 13, perhaps around the same time that he stopped playing defense when his team’s goaltender got hurt during a tournament.
With Teskey in goal his squad won the event, and he was named most valuable player.
Clyde and Dee aren’t sure either.
What everyone does agree on is that there were two position changes involving Teskey.
Perhaps the most surprising one was his attitude toward Clyde.
“Clyde was always talking positively,” Dee Tuyl said. “He would say, ‘Whatever you put your mind to, you can do. The world is open to you.’’’
More than a decade later, Doug’s world has included four years at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, where he majored in marketing, three years with the United Hockey League’s Fort Wayne Komets and this season with the Storm.
Dee, a high school principal, and Clyde now live in Newcastle, England, where he is head coach of a British National League team.
“We talk quite a bit, but not so much about play,” Clyde Tuyl said. “We talk about attitude and emotions.’’
With Teskey, 27, seeing the majority of work between the pipes, Toledo is 43-14-9, racing with Peoria for first place overall in the East Coast Hockey League.
Teskey is 27-7-5 with a goals against average of 2.90 and a .909 save percentage. His team meets Dayton Friday at the Sports Arena at 7:30.
“It’s nice to see he’s doing so well,” Clyde Tuyl said. “Mostly, it’s important to have fun going to the rink. We have this discussion every spring, ‘Enjoy going to the rink for as long as you can because there’s a whole lot of time to do whatever there is that comes after hockey.’’’