Another young Cochrane hockey player is looking to leave his mark on the rest of the hockey world as defenceman Tyrel Bauer is suiting up for the Western Hockey League's (WHL) Seattle Thunderbirds as a 16-year-old rookie. Bauer, who spent last season with the Airdrie CFR AAA Bisons where he scored three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 32 games, also got his first taste of junior hockey when he suited up for one game with the Thunderbirds during their six-game Alberta trip last November in a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. “The whole experience was truly incredible. Playing my first WHL game was unforgettable in itself, but playing in Rogers Place in Edmonton was just the icing on the cake,” Bauer said last year of his experience. “The environment was amazing and the guys on the team made me feel very welcome. I was a sponge just soaking it up and learning as I go.” The young defenceman, who was selected in the second round of the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft by Seattle and signed a Standard Player Agreement with the team on Jun. 14 of last year, has now played in 15 games with the T-Birds, registering two assists and 20 penalty minutes in those games. While he's made the team for now, Bauer said that you can't get comfortable and that he need's to play his best every night in order to keep his spot in the line up. "To be honest, it has been a process. At this level, you have to understand there is no 'making the team.' You can be sent home at anytime for many different reasons. It's about coming to the rink every day, earning your spot in the line up and working your way up the ladder," Bauer said. "Every day is a new day to get better, and that is the approach you must take. That being said, it has been an incredible experience and tons of fun too." Even with the pressures of playing in his first year at the WHL level, Bauer said he's enjoying every moment and challenge that comes his way. Bauer also said it's quite the transition from Midget AAA to major junior. "It has been an awesome experience. We truly have a great group of guys and although we are working out some kinks, we have potential to be serious contenders in this league. These guys work hard day in and day out, and are dedicated to becoming better. I have learned a lot from them, especially some of the older guys who have been around," Bauer said. "As far as the transition, it has been different. The schedule is way longer and more taxing than Midget AAA and it's more serious too. I mean, these guys are trying to be professional athletes and impress National Hockey League (NHL) scouts. We have to be ready to play every day and there are no easy games in this league." "Not to mention moving away from home and being in a new environment is something I'm not used to either. However my family has been extremely supportive and I would not be here without them. Also, my coaches from last year in Dan Gendur, Dustin Taylor and many other mentors such as Dave Millard, Reid Hnatowich, Ryan Hilderman and Jeff Ovens have prepared me for this level and I can't thank them enough as well." Cochrane hockey fans can now add Bauer to the list that is continues to grow of locals making it to the professional or major junior ranks along with names such as Mason Raymond, Dillon Dube, Justin Dowling, Tyler Wong, Connor Bouchard. The 16-year-old said it's an honour to represent the Town of Cochrane along with those players. "It's truly great. Anytime you can represent something that means so much to you is a pretty special feeling. All of those guys are really good hockey players and are great people too. To be part of that group not only on the ice ice but off of it too is something special ... Cochrane is my home and feels good to be able to come back to such a special place with great spirit," Bauer said. "They absolutely motivate me to become better. That is a pretty impressive group, and believe me I have a long way to go to get where they are. I am just scratching the surface of what I hope is a long career. However, seeing people from your town compete at the highest level is really motivating and creates a sense that it is possible for someone from our town to make the big leagues." Bauer's next game with the Thunderbirds will be on Nov. 9 when they host the Kelowna Rockets. Those interested in watching can tune in through WHL Live at www.whl.neulion.com.