#9 T Tyler Hass
If you ever have experienced a Swarm game at The Hive, there’s a good chance you have noticed No. 9 in the blue and yellow uniform, especially if you are member of the opposing team. That jersey belongs to Minnesota transition player Tyler Hass, who measures in as the tallest player on the Swarm roster, at a towering 6-foot-6.
It is difficult to ignore Hass for long, for the Victoria, British Columbia native thrives on being a physical force in the defensive end while at the same time being a catalyst for the Swarm offensive attack. Hass is second among Swarm transition players with seven goals this season and is second on the team with 31 penalty minutes, proving that he is not afraid of making his presence known both with his body and on the scoreboard.
Prior to Minnesota’s 2014 season finale against the Toronto Rock, the plucky fourth-year pro took some time to chat with MNSwarm.com, and shared the roots of his hard-nosed style of play, his take on the season that was and what motivation his team has going into the last weekend of play.
Hollerud: What does life outside of lacrosse entail for you?
Hass: I juggle a couple jobs and help out with my family. They own a couple businesses so I just kind of jump around and help them when they need me to. I do keep pretty busy doing it but besides that, I'm trying to spend time with my newborn at home.
Hollerud: We’ve had a bit of a quarrel between David Earl and yourself break out over reality TV. Back in February you claimed that Earl liked watching the The Bachelor but last week Earl defended himself saying that it was you who liked to watch the show since you had control over the remote. Who’s telling the truth?
Hass: No comment... Of course I am telling the truth. I never lie.
Hollerud: For someone not familiar with your style of play, what are a few signs that indicate when you are performing at the top of your game?
Hass: Probably if I am going out and getting a couple breakaways and running the ball. When I seem to have the ball in my stick a lot I seem to be playing pretty well. I just try to be around the ball instead of being away from it.
Hollerud: Being a transition player you tend to be split between offensive and defensive responsibilities, do you see yourself more effective on one side of the ball than the other?
Hass: I think when I am most effective I have more of an offensive game going. I think that’s the best way I can help the team. Playing defense it’s hard to find those [scoring] opportunities, and when you do you have to take advantage of them.
Hollerud: What can you do on the floor that players without your imposing size might not be able to do?
Hass: It poses some mismatch problems, some of the bigger guys out there when they see that a bigger guy is defending them will think twice about a one-on-one or going at you. It helps with that so they don’t impose their size on us – we are imposing our size on them.
Hollerud: You are one of the more gritty, hard-nosed players on the team, has that always been an important aspect to your game?
Hass: I’ve always been that way. I’ve really only known one way of playing, and I think no matter what sport I play I’ve always been the same way. I think it’s just a habit more than anything else from me.
Hollerud: What other sports have you played?
Hass: I played basketball in college for five years – I usually fouled out of all those games. Lacrosse tended to be a better fit for me there. But definitely everything, you name it, I’ll play it. I love all sports.
Hollerud: You racked up 29 penalty minutes over your first eight games this season but have only had two over the last five games, to what do you attribute this differential from the start of the year to recently?
Hass: I think I ran into the wrong ref at the wrong time and I racked up about 11, 12, 13 of those minutes in one game. It just happens, I guess I should have known who was reffing and taken a step back but it’s tough sometimes. I’m more of a guy where the second half of the year I won’t take many penalties, so I turned that around after I saw it was hurting our team.
Hollerud: With the NLL being more of an intimate league, do you see who will be officiating ahead of time and try to tailor your game plan to how tight of a game they might call?
Hass: I think with most sports when you get close to playoffs they will keep the whistles in their mouths a bit more, but there are definitely a couple refs who call the game a lot tighter and there are some who don’t blow many whistles. But that is kind of an experience thing and it is part of a coach’s job to let you know how it is going to be out there and how you need to play.
Hollerud: You were an integral part to the playoff teams the Swarm have had the last two years. What steps need to be taken for this roster to repeat that success?
Hass: I think it’s a matter of getting more time together, especially game time. There’s a lot of new faces, a lot of different styles of play that maybe we weren’t used to. We definitely started playing better down the stretch here but it’s tough to win the last couple when teams have everything and they are fighting for the playoffs and you are just trying to hang on and get better each game.
I think we need to stick together and get a little experience and keep fighting. It will come; the talent is there it is just a matter of not making mistakes and getting to know the game a little better.
Hollerud: You guys are all athletes and competitors, how do you guys dig deep and come out with your best effort when you are not fighting for a playoff spot or when there doesn’t seem to be anything on the line?
Hass: It’s definitely not easy, but I think good players just play one way all the time. Everyone of course has bad games and it seems like they are taking the night off but if you just make a habit out of playing the game the same way I don’t think you have to worry about what the game means.
You just are who you are – it’s now just a character thing, you are trying to make a name for yourself and trying to get respect from other players and that is maybe the biggest thing in sports sometimes.
Hollerud: Is there any truth that playing well now can build momentum for the next season?
Hass: You can definitely build some momentum, maybe more confidence than anything. It’s just nice to know you left on a good note when you are coming into the next season. When you have a bad couple of games to finish the season you tend to doubt yourself once and a while, and when you are thinking about that for the whole offseason you are not doing yourself any good. I think it’s important for a lot of guys to finish the season hard.
Hollerud: Looking ahead to the Toronto matchup, will the rivalry that exists between you and them bring any more intensity to the game on Saturday?
Hass: The guys who have been around definitely know what’s been going on between us and them in both the playoffs and the regular season. I think for a lot of us it does mean something more than just another game. Toronto is always a team you will be battling against, they are always going to be good and you always want to prove a point against them. I think the older guys who have been through these battles will bring a little something extra for this game, and hopefully the new guys will see what it’s all about.
Hollerud: What are you looking for out of your team this Saturday as you close out your season at The Hive?
Hass: I think it is super important. It’s a nice way to go out, it’s a way we can really just work our tails off and give something back to our fans who have been there every game and put on a show for them. We don’t want to just let the season go without a fight.