Vail’s Mike Testwuide signs deal with Philly
VAIL, Colorado – Bernie Parent, Bobby Clarke, Eric Lindros, Mikey Testwuide.
OK, not yet, but a little time for dreaming is appropriate. After all, Vail’s Mike Testwuide took a big step toward his dream of playing NHL hockey Thursday by signing a two-year, two-way contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.
After finishing an improbable career with Colorado College, where he wore the captain’s “C” and blossomed into one of the Tigers’ top scorers, the 23-year-old Vail native will be reporting to training camp with the Broadstreet Bullies in Voorhees, N.J., in September with a chance to make the big club or end up with its top American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack (N.Y.) Phantoms.
“It’s been my goal all along to play pro hockey,” Testwuide said from Vail on Friday. “This year, I was playing pretty well and started getting some interest halfway through the season. As the season ended, some teams approached me and Philadelphia was the best fit.”
The Flyers, the New York Rangers, the Washington Capitals and the Colorado Avalanche all talked to Testwuide, he said. Of course, Colorado was a consideration given that Testwuide grew up rooting for Peter Forsberg and the hometown Avs.
“That was a huge temptation,” Testwuide said. “They were my favorite team growing up, but my gut told me that Philadelphia was the right place for me.”
Mikey – and, yes, he is still Mikey though he’s 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds – signing with the Flyers is just the latest chapter in the saga of the Testwuide family. Mikey and his older brother, J.P., started in hockey much like a lot of other local kids – skating with a chair at Dobson Ice Arena.
Both brothers also would play pick-up when Kirk Golden flooded his backyard every winter. As the Testwuide boys – J.P. is now 25, two years older than Mikey – worked their way through the Vail Junior Hockey Association, it was apparent the brothers needed to have bigger hockey challenges.
The two followed each other in succession to boarding school at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y. J.P. and Mike both ended up getting drafted by the Waterloo (Iowa) Black Hawks, of the United States Hockey League, which is essentially junior hockey south of the Canadian border.
Then came college. J.P. landed at the University of Denver, and one year later, Mike signed with Colorado College. For the first time in this storied rivalry’s history, a pair of brothers were on the opposite end of the ice. It was also the first time they actually played against each other, causing their mother, Janet, to attend games wearing half DU and CC sweatshirts and hockey sweaters, sewn together.
The Testwuides made a little bit more history before they were done. J.P. was D.U.’s captain in 2008-09. Mikey wore the C for CC this season. Naturally, when Mikey earned his C, he knew who to call.
“The first person I talked to was J.P.,” he said. “He had some great advice. He’s a natural leader. I don’t think I’d get advice from anyone else on that.”
Testwuide came into his own in his senior year, posting career highs with 21 goals and 10 assists in 36 games. Most impressively, he had five game-winning goals, scored eight times on the power play and had three shorties.
In likely the highlight of his season, Testwuide had a hat trick for CC in a 4-4 tie at DU. (For the record, Mikey had the upper hand in The Gold Pan, the rivalry’s trophy, for the three years the brothers faced each other, but it reverted to DU this year, doubtless much to J.P.’s delight.)
J.P. is a defenseman with the Houston Aeros, the AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild, and hopes to continue playing there in hopes of making the NHL. With the possibility of Mikey in either Adirondack or Philadelphia orange next year, Janet would need a new green-and-orange hockey outfit.
“That would be an ugly hockey jersey,” Mikey joked.
Off to the pros
Often times, college players who sign with NHL teams go straight to their new clubs. Testwuide will stay in Colorado for two reasons. He needs to heal from a rough-and-tumble season. He also wants to complete his degree in economics. He’s finishing up his thesis on ski-destination choice factors.
“I’ve been at it for four years, and it wouldn’t feel right if I left without wrapping up and getting a degree.”
Testwuide will walk on May 17, and then spend the summer, “getting in the best shape of my life.” And that will involve workouts with J.P.
Every prospect who walks into an NHL camp dreams of stunning the brass, making the team and going on to win the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year). Testwuide is realistic and expect to open the season in Adirondack.
“I’ll probably be going to the minors,” he said. “Any chance to play in the NHL would be unbelievable. I don’t know what to expect. I think I can play in the NHL. I don’t have any kind of expectation.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.