By Warren Kozireski —
To say that Kyler Head’s hockey career has taken some unexpected turns would be a gross understatement. The Mercyhurst University senior (with one more season of eligibility after this one) is just six games into his return from a January 2023 shoulder injury and surgery.
“It’s been good; started out against Notre Dame so it’s been getting easier as we go,” Head said. “Just trying to stay positive. I think I’m back to normal now. I’ve been practicing all year, just been waiting for contact in games.”
In 2017-18, Head jumped between three junior teams playing four games with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL, ten with the Central Illinois Flying Aces and 32 back with the New Jersey Jr. Titans in the NAHL.
“It was a mental year just trying to figure out where I could play and what I could do. I got cut from Green Bay and got picked up in the trade block by Central Illinois and did alright. But then I just wanted to back to the North American League where the coaches were good to me and a spectacular program with the Titans.
He committed to Robert Morris in December as a 21-year-old and played 23 games there as a freshman when the school announced that it would discontinue the hockey program at the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
“It was terrible what happened to us,” Head said. “I was basically going to quit hockey, but a door opened here (Mercyhurst), and I took it. Started here two weeks after school started (in 2021-22), so I was pretty behind, but I made it work.
“The portal is so (messed up) with covid, so I just had to wait for an opportunity, and I got it.”
Head had six points in 18 games his first season with the Lakers after the late start and had eight goals and 13 points in 28 games last season before getting hurt.
“What he possesses, the way he’s built; he’s just a big human being, he skates, he has good hands—there’s not a lot of guys like that in Atlantic Hockey,” Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin said.
“He can be an absolute force. He got hurt last January and just played his first game at Notre Dame (end of October) and we haven’t seen Kyler Head yet. He is a big-time player and we’re confident he’s going to find that again, and when he does, he’s going to help us a ton.”
Now 6’4” and 210 lb., the now 24-year-old played for Franklin Academy in Malone before spending the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons largely with the Northern Cyclones program as a 16- and 17-year-old prior to his USHL and NAHL days.
Head is building back after not seeing game action from January to mid-October in his rebound from shoulder surgery, but he still isn’t looking ahead beyond the next practice or game.
“I don’t really like to think too far in the future, I just like to live in the present; life is real quick.”
(Mercyhurst Men’s Hockey Photos)