Tyler Barnes joined the San Antonio Rampage after signing an Amateur Tryout Contract on April 1. He arrived in the Alamo City that night and made quite a professional debut on April 4th, scoring two goals in a 5-2 win over Charlotte.
The 6-0, 190-pound Eagan, Minn. native had just wrapped up his college career with the University of Wisconsin, winning the inaugural Big Ten Hockey Tournament before being eliminated from the NCAA Tournament with a 5-2 loss to North Dakota in the Midwest Regional Semifinals.
He finished his college career with 45 goals and 56 assists for the Badgers and ranked fourth on the team with 28 points (14G, 14A) in his final season. Prior to attending Wisconsin, Barnes, 24, played three seasons with the Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL), tallying 45 goals and 51 assists in 116 games.
He took some time at the end of the season to reflect on what was a whirlwind three weeks with the Rampage.
From the end of your season at Wisconsin to your first game with the Rampage was a whirlwind. How was the experience?
After our season ended it was a quick turnaround. I talked to the coaches and I was on a plane the next morning. It all happened pretty quickly, but it’s been a great experience so far. Meeting the guys here was great. We have a lot of veterans who really took me under their wing. It was a great experience.
Any particular advice that stood out?
The big thing, especially at this level – they said to watch other guys and do what they do until you get the hang of it. So I kind of tried to watch and learn from them.
You had a big debut with two goals in your first professional game. What was that experience like?
It was awesome. The crowd here was great – getting a couple good opportunities and having them go in is something I’ll be able to look back at forever and smile. I had some great linemates, and got some good looks and it’s one of those that just worked out.
What was the biggest difference going from the college game to the pro game?
I think it’s just the mentality of the players. When you’re out there, everyone is in the right spot and doing the right thing. It’s a lot more of a thinking game than it was back in college, and everyone is also bigger, faster and stronger. Adjusting to that has been an experience.
Coming in at the point in which you did and with a short amount of time with the team, what was your mindset and what were you looking to accomplish with this opportunity?
This is essentially a tryout, so you have to come in and give it the best you have and hope everything works out. It’s a chance to prove what I got. That’s all you can do and all you can ask for is an opportunity.
On the Fly
Favorite Food: Steak
Favorite Song: Anything country
Favorite Athlete: Joe Mauer
Favorite TV Show: Suits
Favorite Movie: Remember the Titans
Favorite Band or Artist: Jason Aldean
Superstitions: Pasta on game day