On the outside looking in, Michigan State's new goaltender Dylan St. Cyr has had quite the interesting hockey career. He's playing his sixth college season on his third different team, while also making a stop at his second Big Ten team.
However, that's just the tip of the iceberg into St. Cyr's family that has shaped him into one of the more well-respected goaltenders in the conference.
Growing up with both parents in the sport, hockey quickly became everyday life for St. Cyr.
His father, Gerry St. Cyr, played five seasons of professional hockey, while his mother Manon Rhéaume represented Canada in the 1998 Winter Olympics and became the first woman to take the ice in an NHL preseason game with the Tampa Bay Lighting in 1992.
Despite this, Dylan St. Cyr never felt pressured to follow in his parents’ footsteps. In fact, growing up in the hockey world only strengthened his belief that his calling was on the ice.
“I don't think I was ever forced to do anything,” Dylan St. Cyr said. “I think it was just normal and I really enjoyed kind of being a part of it. So to me, it was just everyday life and I think being around it was really fun.”
He recalls his earliest memory with the sport as a child wearing little plastic skates with four-by-four wheels around the house. As he got older, a hockey stick got added to the mix with which he “tormented the house” by breaking things until he moved to the ice.
His decision to be a goalie came to be at a young age as well. When he was just a few years old, his mother was gifted a set of goalie gear small enough for a young child, which Dylan St. Cyr added to his collection of hockey gear.
“When he started playing on the ice, what he didn't like is the players had to come and change and sit on the bench and go back out but the goalie would stay on the ice the entire time,” Rhéaume said. “He was like I wanted to be the goalie because I want to stay on the ice, but then after that he got to do both, like play out and play goalie and at some point he had made the decision.”
This decision however, gave Rhéaume some motherly anxiety.
“As a goalie, every mistake is bigger than anybody else on the ice so you can either be the hero or zero,” she said. “It's very stressful. As a goalie that's the part that I liked the most, the pressure of the position, but as a mom it's totally different. It's your kid and it's like that pressure. It's not fun at all.”
She recalls the first time she felt this stress was when Dylan was told he would be starting in net the day before the state championship.
“I woke up in the morning and I had butterflies in my stomach,” Rhéaume said. “I thought it was weird, so I picked up the phone and I called my mom and ... I'm like 'OK, I have a question for you. Is it normal that I woke up with butterflies in my stomach because Dylan is playing in net in the final today?' And that's what my mom said 'it's payback time.' I realized right there what I put her through.”
Dylan St. Cyr has started five of the Spartans six games, earning a 3-2-0 record. He's 19th in the country allowing 2.03 goals per game and also has a .910 save percentage.
The Spartans head to Notre Dame this weekend, Dylan's former program, for a two-game series this Friday. While Rhéaume says the stress of his position and wanting him to perform well will always be there for her no matter what team he plays, she imagines he’ll have mixed emotions instead of stress, upon returning to South Bend.
“It was a big part of his college career ... and so I'm sure it's gonna be mixed emotions going back there to play against his old team,” she said.
As for his new team, Dylan St. Cyr has played a key role in rebuilding the culture of Michigan State hockey, something that drew him here in the first place. Of course, being from Northville, Michigan, MSU had the appeal of being close to home, but he also saw something in the type of program new Head Coach Adam Nightingale was trying to create.
“I think having already spent five years in college hockey and being at two schools that really had a strong culture, both Quinnipiac and Notre Dame, I think that was something I really wanted to be a part of,” Dylan St. Cyr said. “I knew when coach Nightingale came around, that was something that he was trying to build and really instill in the new culture, with a lot of new guys. I think that was one thing I really found intriguing and kind of being a part of something bigger.”
Being a part of something bigger appears to run in the family. Rhéaume, who now works in the Los Angeles Kings' player development department, never set out to be an inspiration for hockey fans around the world, she was simply playing the sport she loved. Along the way however, she realized that a story like hers can truly have an impact on people’s lives.
During her career she has had people come up to her and tell her all kinds of things, such as a daughter doing a school project on her, or their child having her poster on her wall. It took years after her appearance with the Lightning to fully realize the impact of what she had done.
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“You realize ... my story really impacted people and then they become part of it,” Rhéaume said. “When someone asks me to answer a question, if by answering the question I can make a difference in someone's life, it's the most rewarding thing. I think that both of my boys realize that along the way playing the game, they can be inspiring other people too.”
Dylan St. Cyr hopes to inspire his new team this weekend, as they travel to Notre Dame to take on his old team. He's still in-touch with many of the players on the team and even spent some time in South Bend before the start of the school year.
"(I'm) obviously very excited, mixed emotions," Dylan St. Cyr said. "I think it'll be really fun to go back and obviously see some old friends and coaches. Obviously there's still work to be done for the weekend and I think two big games for us as a team and to see where we're at."
The puck drops in South Bend at 7:30 p.m. Friday night and 6 p.m. Saturday night. Both games will be streaming through Peacock.
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