Langley’s Mulock brothers were with the Vancouver Giants back when the ‘G-Men’ were the new kids on the Western Hockey League block.
These days, Tyson and T.J., 33 and 30, respectively, are playing pro overseas – in fact, they’ve been plying their hockey trade in Germany for a decade, now.
The two right wingers got their junior hockey start with the Giants, who for the first 15 years of their existence called the Pacific Coliseum home before announcing their move to the Langley Events Centre in early May.
Despite a fleeting 18-game stint with the G-Men, Tyson is embedded in franchise lore – he scored the first goal in franchise history in a loss to the Kamloops Blazers.
With the Blazers leading 4-0 early in the third period of the Sept. 21, 2001 game at the Coliseum, Tyson scored at the 4:28 mark to make Giants’ history. The Blazers ended up coming away with a 5-2 victory.
Now, with the Giants officially relocating to the Langley Events Centre, the Advance caught up with T.J., who shared his memories of the then-fledgling major junior squad.
T.J. was a healthy scratch in the Giants’ WHL debut, but made his own major junior entrance for the Giants’ second game during their 2001-02 WHL campaign.
The younger Mulock remembers feeling almost overwhelmed, in his first major junior game as a 16-year-old rookie: “For me, it was the crowd – we used to sell out the building [Pacific Coliseum] all the time the first year, and you just never seen anything like it the first year. There was so much hype because it was an expansion team.”
Like Tyson, T.J. found the net in his first WHL contest.
“It was a lucky screen shot that I just threw on net,” he recalls. “It was pretty exciting. Sixteen, scoring in your first [WHL] game that you’ve played, you think you’re going to be an all-star and it’s going to be an easy league but that gets taken from you pretty quickly.”
T.J. remembers the WHL in the early 2000s feeling a lot like the Wild West, with “a lot of hitting, a lot of fighting, a lot of huge guys.”
“That’s changed a lot, the skill level has gone up,” T.J. said. “I remember my first shift I was just petrified.”
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Today, the brothers have carved out solid professional careers playing in the German elite league.
Tyson plays with the Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams, while T.J. is a member of the Eisenbaren Berlin (Berlin Polar Bears).
“It was a shock the first few years you get over there but you get used to it,” T.J. said. “I was able to play with my brother for four years in Berlin and that’s when it really set in that this is home.”
He’s been with the Polar Bears for seven years and says “it’s really felt like home.”
“Coming home [to Canada] was almost a visit,” T.J. said. “Time flies by so quick. You’re home three months, maybe three-and-a-half depending on how your season goes and you’re right back to Germany.”
For T.J., home is both Langley and Vancouver, where he and Tyson own apartments.
Looking back, others who came into the WHL as 16 year olds at the same time as the Mulock brothers have forged solid National Hockey League careers. The list includes Nashville defenceman Shea Weber, Chicago blueliner Brent Seabrook, Anaheim centre Ryan Getzlaf, and St. Louis Blues winger Troy Brouwer.
Now that Tyson and T.J. are in their 30s, and were never drafted by an NHL team, they’re comfortable with the fact that they’ll likely spend the rest of their careers overseas.
“Of course, it [the NHL] is always your dream as a kid growing up,” T.J. said. “My brother and I both went straight out of junior to Europe. We knew that our chances were slim to make the NHL which they are for anybody. We knew we could get our German passports eventually in Germany so we thought it was a good route.”
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Nearly six years ago, T.J.’s bloodlines allowed him the opportunity to play in sports largest stage – and do it on Canadian soil, to boot.
He suited up for Team Germany in the 2010 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament in Vancouver.
T.J.’s Olympic heritage begins near Leipzig, from where his maternal grandfather, Horst Chieduch, emigrated to Canada following the Second World War.
Europe’s extensively redrawn map now shows Mulock’s ancestral home in former East Prussia, which now lies in Poland, though he retains the right to play for his adopted country in the Olympics as his birthright.
Looking ahead to next year, T.J. says he feels as fit as ever.
“I think 21, 22 were huge years for me,” T.J. said. “I think every hockey player is different. Some people can be all-stars at 17, 19, and they kind of flop when they’re playing at a higher level. For me, those development years, 21, 22, 23, they were huge for me. They helped me take a step in the right direction.”
Speaking of direction, the Giants took a major shift when they moved east to Langley.
“It definitely sucks for a lot of the fans who are out in Vancouver; it’s a long drive in but it seems like it’s a good move for them financially,” Mulock said.
“I think for the players it’s probably going to be a good move,” he said. “Langley is such a great city and has such great hockey fans.”