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Litchfield Park’s Ortega heading back to USPHL’s Mullets ahead of ’22-23 campaign


The Minnesota Mullets have announced that veteran forward Tyler Ortega will return to the team for the upcoming 2022-23 season.

The center will bring experience and depth to the Mullets’ lineup.

A native of Litchfield Park, Ortega skated in 42 regular-season games for the Mullets last season and posted six points (two goals, four assists), ranked third among team centers in scoring, and had two penalty minutes. He had a season-high two-point game (two assists) against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings on October 15. He also played in three playoff games and recorded an assist.

Mullets head coach Chris Walby is very excited to have Ortega back in his age-out year. All eyes will be on him, and the Mullets’ coaching staff predicts a big year from Ortega.

“Tyler is a coachable player who does a lot of the little things right out there,” said Walby. “He’s a big forward that goes hard to the net and into the gritty areas. He’s physical, stops on pucks, blocks shots, and is great in the offensive end at cycling and maintaining puck possession.”

Ortega is also happy to be back and, like the hockey player he is, can’t wait to get the season going. This season will be different for him because now he will be a veteran, which brings a whole new experience.

“Now that I am a vet, I look at my role as being a leader on and off the ice,” said Ortega. “(It is) also to help mentor the rookies and be the player that Coach can rely on in any situation.”

Walby also notices the benefit being a veteran can have.

“Tyler gained a lot of experience last season as a rookie that is going to pay off this year,” he said. “He knows what to expect as far as the pace of play and talent that’s in this league. He’ll be a little more poised and comfortable in games this year as a veteran.”

Ortega is known to work hard during the season, but his effort off the ice has become noticeable.

“He’s having a big offseason back home in the gym and I anticipate that is going to help build a lot of confidence when he gets here this fall,” said Walby.

The combination of previous league experience and off-ice effort will surely make Ortega a confident skater and great asset to the team.

He also has his own goals in mind for the upcoming campaign.

“My goal for the season is to be a big contributor to the team’s success and help to take the team deeper into the playoffs this year,” Ortega said.

As a veteran who has earned more ice time, he will surely get the opportunity to do so.

Entering his final season with the Mullets, Ortega aims to make the most of it. He wants to take the opportunity to prove that he has earned a spot on a college roster when his time in the league is done. He will use this final run to continue to grow his game, “so that I can achieve the goal of playing NCAA hockey. Playing for the Mullets and Coach Walby is the right path for me to reach that goal.”

Back home, Ortega played with DYHA, the Jr. Coyotes, Arizona Bobcats and his senior year of high school at Sandra Day O’Connor.

Photo/Kels Witt

— Brandon Laxson

(July 20, 2022)

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