Before Tyson Jost became a mainstay in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche, to many of his junior and college buddies he was just “Josty,” a fun-loving, class clown of a character on his respective teams.
A favorite among fans, teammates and media here in Colorado, too, Jost has become known for his charisma on and off the ice, and for his fun, positive demeanor. In the oft stringent world of sports, where the game is treated like a serious business, Jost is beloved among his teammates and admirers for being an easy-spirited guy and one who keeps things loose and fun in the locker room.
Just ask some of his old buddies.
“Josty? I love that guy,” said Colton Poolman, a former teammate of Jost’s who played with him both in juniors with the Penticton Vees and at the University of North Dakota. “He was always such an energetic guy. He was so mature but at the same time he was kind of like a little kid. He just loved hockey.”
I spoke with a handful of Jost’s former UND and Penticton teammates, and I’ll say Poolman’s assessment of his old pal was pretty much the consensus across the board. Poolman couldn’t say enough about Jost’s character.
“He really could read a room pretty well. Like if we were down two goals to one, as an 18-year-old freshman, he would still kind of step up and say the right things,” he added. “And then when guys needed to laugh, he was always good to get the guys going a bit. He was so good, that was his personality. It’s not like he was trying to do it, that was just him. It’s a rare person — a special person — that can do both of those at once.”
Another former UND teammate of Jost’s, senior Fighting Hawks forward Dixon Bowen was actually roommates with Jost for the only year he played at North Dakota during the 2016-17 season. And before that, they both played in Penticton alongside Poolman.
“He was actually one of my best friends,” said Bowen. “We got to know each other pretty well in Penticton for a year, and then my first year at UND we were roommates freshman year. We grew pretty close. Actually a week ago, I went to go see him play the (Winnipeg) Jets at [Bell MTS Place].”
Like Poolman, Bowen’s assessment of what it was like being around Jost so often came with the qualifier of his youthful exuberance.
“He’s kind of like a little kid,” he added. “He likes to have fun and make jokes. Usually everybody likes him. He’s a good guy.”
Referring to Tyson as a little kid is not a jab at his character, rather, it’s quite the opposite. It’s a nod to his care-free attitude and his penchant for playing around, having fun and keeping things light-hearted. And in playing such a high-pressure, high-intensity sport like hockey, having a guy like Tyson in a locker room to keep things loose and balanced has measurable benefits.
Not only is it appreciated by his fellow teammates, but it really aids in the coaching side of things, too.
“There’s some stressful situations when it comes to the game. The games are hard, you know? He’s a serious guy but he knows when to lighten it up and to lighten the crew up, too,” said Brad Berry, Jost’s head coach at North Dakota. “He’s just got a certain personality about him that’s infectious with the other guys and that everyone wants to be around. He’s a leader. I know he’s a young player in the NHL right now but he’ll be a leader in a short amount of time just because of the things he does on and off the ice.”
While he seemingly jokes around much of the time, according to his former friends and teammates, he has a serious side to him, too. Like his old coach alluded to, Jost was a real leader on his teams. In fact, his final year at Penticton he served as the team’s captain, a year in which he scored 104 points in just 48 games and was named the MVP of the BCHL and earned the Canadian Junior Hockey League National Player of the Year honors.
“He’s an awesome guy,” added Griffin Mendel, who currently skates with the Denver Pioneers, but played with Jost at Penticton. “He was a great leader when I was there (in Penticton). He was always the hardest-working guy at practice. I mean, some of the stuff he did on the ice was just like ‘wow, unreal.’ Like nobody else could’ve done that in the league and it was special to watch what he could do. He was the best player on our team and in the league.”
Mendel admitted that he’s a shy guy, but Jost’s personality and his want for everyone on the team to be involved would “bring out my louder side,” he said. “So that was good.”
Another current DU Pioneer and former teammate of Josts, senior forward Liam Finlay says the two go way back. The pair played bantam together when they were 13 years old back in 2011 at the Pursuit of Excellence Bantam Prep in Kelowna, British Columbia. After that the pair linked up again with the Okanagan Rockets, a midget-level league in Kelowna, where Jost was also the assistant captain. To this day, the two meet up in the summers during the offseason.
Finlay says across that timeline, Jost was always known as the “fun guy.”
“We played bantam together and then midget as well, so I know him pretty well,” he said. “He’s one of those guys that likes to have fun, he likes to keep it light. He’s a serious guy when it comes to hockey but he understands that the game is fun and he has to have fun with it. He’s awesome, fun to be around...He just loves the game, he loves being at the rink and just loves being a part of it.”
As all of his former teammates alluded to, Jost was a “lead by example” type of player, through his attitude and performance on and off the ice. Poolman added that Jost’s pure fervor for the game made guys want to follow his lead.
“He was always the guy at the rink, he wanted to get guys going. Most of the time guys didn’t want to do extra drills but his enthusiasm for the game, it made you want to do it with him,” he said. “He was so energetic, and his involvement in the program — even still four years after he left — still lasts with our class. I’m so glad that he’s doing so well right now.”
Again, from a coaching standpoint, having a player like Jost on your team has countless benefits says coach Berry. Jost was a leader among his teammates, without needing a letter on his jersey to show for it.
“We only had him one year, but he was a guy that invested in his game every single day in practices and in the games,” Berry told me. “For coming in for just one year, he dominated college hockey. He did all the little things right.
“People think when you watch a player on the ice, they think they know a player. But what he does on a daily basis, whether it’s nutrition, watching what he eats, the workouts, pushing himself hard every single day — we call those guys at North Dakota the ‘one-percenters.’ You know, we had (Jonathan) Toews, (Zach) Parise, (T.J.) Oshie — those types of players — those are the one-percenters that push themselves every single day to be an eventual player in the NHL, and I think he’s a one-percenter.”
Before I broke the interviews with each respective player, I asked all of his former teammates one parting question.
What’s one thing the world doesn’t know about Tyson Jost?
“I don’t know if you guys know, but he’s a pretty good dancer,” said Poolman. “I don’t like to admit it, but ask him to show you some dance moves and he’s got a couple little shakes and shimmies that he’s pretty good at. He’s a good dancer, that’s what I remember.”
Bowen says it’s true, adding “He can break it down pretty good. It’s funny when he gets going.”
Finlay respectfully disagreed.
“I don’t know if I’d say great dancer,” he laughed. “I’d say he works hard at it.”
Finlay also added that behind his fun and energetic demeanor lies a softer side to Jost.
“I’d say he’s a softy,” Finlay revealed. “I don’t know, he puts on this front but he’s really a kind-hearted kid. He’s just like a really soft guy, he’s fun to be around and he’s fun to hang out with.”
Dixon Bowen — who I should remind you roomed with Jost as a freshman at North Dakota — revealed some more personal details about his former roommate.
“He’s color-blind. Does everyone know that?,” he said, before he revealed some messier details about his old roomie.
“He never changes his boxers,” Bowen added, to which I was unable to discern if he was joking or not, but I can only assume he was — or at least, I hope.
“Yeah, he’s a pretty messy guy,” Bowen chuckled. “He gets to bed early, too, he’s pretty disciplined...but it was fun to be around him.”
The revelation that Jost is a messy roommate is not a surprise. J.T. Compher, who roomed with Jost during the 2017-18 season, told me the same thing when I spoke with him that year.
“Josty’s room is the messiest for sure,” Compher told me. “...but Josty is the best cook though.”
Messiness and personal hygiene aside, above all, it’s clear Jost is adored and admired by his teammates, past and present, and it’s easy to see why.
Still, the question remains: How does one get their hands on a Tyson Jost dancing video?
UPDATE: We’ve found some Jost dancing video.