Chicago Wolves center T.J. Tynan received the 2018 Tim Breslin Unsung Hero Award prior to Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Admirals at Allstate Arena. The honor recognizes the Wolves player who best exemplifies Breslin’s on-ice spirit, team-first attitude and community involvement.
Breslin, one of the first three players signed by the Wolves after the franchise was formed in 1994, passed away on Feb. 9, 2005, due to complications from appendiceal cancer. The Addison, Illinois, native and Driscoll Catholic High School graduate produced 37 goals and 82 assists during his five seasons with the Wolves and played an important role when the team earned the 1998 Turner Cup Championship. Breslin’s family, including his widow, Jami, and their children, Shane, Paige and Chase, participated in Saturday’s on-ice ceremony.
Tynan, a 26-year-old Orland Park native, can testify to Breslin’s on-ice spirit and team-first attitude first-hand. Tynan spent his youth hockey years playing for the Chicago Mission and Breslin served as his coach at the Peewee Minor level in 2003-04 and Peewee Major in 2004-05. Their Peewee Minor team captured the 2004 state championship.
“He was awesome as a coach,” Tynan said. “He taught me a lot of fundamentals and skills – things that I still use today. We had a lot of talented players on those teams and a lot of them are still playing today. I got to know the Breslin family pretty well. This is a great honor, especially knowing him and his family. It’s very special.”
Tynan has delivered 13 goals and a team-high 43 assists along with a +16 plus/minus rating in 67 games this season. He plays a crucial role on the team’s highly rated penalty-kill and power-play units while serving as a leader in the dressing room and volunteering frequently for the Wolves’ community projects.
Wolves fans determined the 2018 Breslin Award winner as they cast votes on ChicagoWolves.com for the candidates nominated by the Wolves coaching staff: defensemen Jake Bischoff, Chris Casto and Kevin Lough along with Tynan. He joins teammate Bryce Gervais (2017), Andre Benoit (2016), Brent Regner (2014 and 2015), Bill Sweatt (2013), Mark Matheson (2012), Jaime Sifers (2011), Matt Anderson (2010), Steve Martins (2009), Brian Sipotz (2008), Brian Fahey (2007), Kevin Doell (2006) and Tim Wedderburn (2005) as the players who have earned the honor.
Saturday’s pregame ceremony also recognized Washington High School senior John Maali Jr., who earned the Tim Breslin Memorial Scholarship earmarked for a college-bound student who has overcome a hardship. Maali, who lives on Chicago’s south side, is autistic and has been a member of Washington’s varsity football and basketball teams. He also competes in the Special Olympics and has earned medals in swimming and track.
“Going to college has always been a dream of mine,” Maali said. “I am so excited that I will be able to make this dream come true.”