- The Washington Times - Friday, May 25, 2012

Mike Stancik played for the Washington Little Capitals from 2001-2003 when they were coached by ex-Caps defenseman Mark Tinordi. He remembers practice goalie Jarred Tinordi very well.

“He was three years younger than us, but he can definitely still skate with us,” Stancik recalled. “Looking back I probably should’ve known something was going to happen, especially if he got his dad’s height.”

Height and then some. Dad is 6-foot-4; son is 6-foot-7 and was a first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2010 draft. On Sunday, Tinordi will captain Dale Hunter’s London Knights in the final of the Memorial Cup, junior hockey’s national championship.

Tinordi has grown a lot in the past nine years and at 20 years old, still has more of that ahead of him in a push to be an NHL defenseman like his father.

“Part of that is going there believing you can play. That’s a big thing,” Mark Tinordi said in a telephone interview. “You’ve got to go there thinking you can play in that league, not just going there seeing what happens. That’s a big attitude change.”

Tinordi’s attitude has always been doing what’s best for teammates. It’s why Dale and Mark Hunter made him the captain.

“I think it was always in him. He was always that way. He’d rather the team win than for him to score and do well individually,” Mark Tinordi said. “I’m a little bit trying to push him to be a little bit more aggressive to get better offensively and to push to get himself a little bit better. He keeps saying, yeah he’s trying. He wants to make sure he’s doing what his job is for the team.”

Jarred Tinordi’s growth took on a different shape when he chose to leave a full scholarship at Notre Dame to play for the Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. He said he made that decision because of the schedule and volume of games and that Dale Hunter, before he went to coach the Caps, was a “main reason,” too.

“I think it’s just a great hockey environment [in London],” Tinordi said. “The whole organization’s hockey people. If you want to be a hockey player, this is a great spot to be. You learn from some of the best. I think that’s a huge factor.”

It remains to be seen whether Dale Hunter reassumes his role behind the bench next season, though Tinordi will be starting a new chapter as a professional. In the past couple of years, he has dealt with a knee injury and disappointment at the world junior championships.

Those setbacks and his successful endeavor to make the Knights and U.S. rosters should prove invaluable experience for Tinordi this fall.

“I think he does better when he’s trying to make teams,” Mark Tinordi said. “He’s motivated to fit in and to not let anybody down.”

He has done a nice job of that so far, helping this London team reach the Memorial Cup final in a season the Hunters had marked for rebuilding. Tinordi was a plus-39 player during the regular season and had no trouble making an impact

“It’s incredible to think about, especially with how far he’s come since then,” said Stancik, 22, of Ashburn. “He was probably less than 5 feet tall. Now he’s just a huge tree, and he’s going to be a big guy on the back end. I’ve definitely seen some fights, too. He can definitely throw them. Just like his dad.”

If the improvement on the ice continues, even better than his dad.

“He’s big and rangy, he can skate, he plays tough. He’s got character. He’s got that package together that’s hard to come by,” coach Mark Hunter said. “A lot of them can’t skate at that size and he can get around the ice and he can play physical when he has to and stand up for his teammates. And he plays every night, hard.”

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