The Season That Nearly Didn’t Happen

April 26, 2018

Norfolk, VA.– While most of his college teammates at Norwich University began celebrating their national championship last spring, Ty Reichenbach loaded up his truck, preparing to make the almost 12-hour drive from Northfield, Vermont to Roanoke, Virginia. It’s not that the goaltender didn’t want to bask in the glory of a 35-save national championship performance, his attention had already shifted to the next goal. Pro hockey.

Three days after he wrapped up his college career, Reichenbach signed his first professional contract. Three days after that he got his first taste of pro hockey, allowing five goals on 48 shots as the Rail Yard Dawgs lost 6-5 in a shootout.

“I got scored on with the first shot I faced in my first pro game,” Reichenbach remembers. “The speed was the biggest thing. Players place their shots better [in pros than college] so I had to adjust quickly to ensure I’d have a chance to play.”

Fast forward four months and Reichenbach was driving back to Virginia. This time the destination was Norfolk and his first professional training camp. Arriving in Norfolk the goaltender knew he had his work cut out for him to stay with the Admirals.

“Coming into camp they already had Jake Paterson, who was on an AHL deal, and Jamie Murray who had been on an AHL deal the year before,” Reichenbach said. “When I got invited to camp they just said “We don’t really know a whole lot about you, but you can come in, work hard, and battle for a spot.””

After a week and a half Reichenbach had impressed the coaching staff and his teammates. But with two goalies on the roster the question became what should they do with the rookie goaltender from Billings, Montana.

“The three of them [Coach Ftorek, Coach Sidorkiewicz, and then President Mike Santos] sat me down and told me “You didn’t lose your job. You had a great camp and hopefully no one else picks you up.” They anticipated movement with Patterson going up [to Milwaukee],” Reichenbach continued. “And they told me as soon as that happened they were going to bring me up [from Roanoke].”

After being cut from the team Reichenbach was headed back to Roanoke, where he had made his professional debut a few months earlier. But before he could get out of the parking garage he got a phone call and was quickly ushered back inside the arena where he signed a contract with the Admirals.

“So I was cut for about five minutes and then they decided that they didn’t want to let me go,” the goaltender stated. “They told me that whoever plays, plays. I wasn’t promised anything and told that they didn’t envision me playing over 15 games this season. And I ended up playing 45.”

It didn’t take long for Reichenbach to find his way into the Norfolk net either as he made his first start of the year in just the second game of the season. Contrasting his dubious pro debut, Reichenbach held the offensively talented Idaho Steelheads scoreless for 53:19 in his first appearance as an Admiral. The start helped him gain trust with his coaches and teammates, and set the stage for a strong rookie campaign.

Reichenbach finished his first pro season by leading the ECHL in saves and minutes played, while ranking among the league leaders in goals against average (12th) and save percentage (9th). The 45 games played were the most by a Norfolk goaltender in a single season since 2012-13.

“When I signed that first contract with the Admirals I felt like I’d accomplished some dreams I had that as a kid I didn’t know were possible. There were times when I didn’t think I’d play after college,” Reichenbach reflected.

Thinking he was done playing hockey after the Admirals season concluded for the summer, Reichenbach took a road trip to Colorado with teammate Darik Angeli. As he started to head into the Pepsi Center in Denver to watch game three of the Colorado Avalanche’s first round playoff matchup with the Nashville Predators he learned he wasn’t going to be putting his pads aside just yet. A call from head coach Robbie Ftorek informed Reichenbach that the Tucson Roadrunners wanted him.

“I was just rushed with emotions. Excited, nervous, feeling accomplished, feeling wanted. Knowing that somebody was watching you play all year,” Reichenbach said. “When I got ready to call their GM I had to take a few deep breathes. I mean that’s Steve Sullivan. I grew up watching him play, and he played over 1,000 NHL games. And I’m getting ready to call his cell phone. It was a pretty cool feeling.”

Since joining the Coyotes AHL affiliate Reichenbach’s days have consisted of working with Coyotes Prospect Goaltending Coach Jon Elkin on the ice before practice, practicing with the team, and testing his game against some of Arizona’s top prospects from all over the world.

“I would’ve called you a liar if you would’ve told me all that heading into camp. Coming into camp, then being released, I was hanging on by a thread for the first little bit. It all would’ve seemed so far-fetched. I’ve been blessed and it’s been a great ride so far,” Reichenbach wrapped up as he kicked back in his Tucson hotel room.

For the time being Reichenbach is soaking it all in, trying to take advantage of every opportunity as the Roadrunners make a push for the Calder Cup. After all, ending the season one step away from the NHL isn’t too bad for a guy who started the season by getting cut.