It’s the case of an OHL grad morphing into a pro career and a franchise morphing into a new existence. Kyle DeCoste has left the University of Western Ontario Mustangs behind and will be playing 2015-16 in Germany’s tier 3 Oberliga. DeCoste will be playing for the Tilburg Trappers.
The Trappers have, for the better part of a century, been one of the main ice hockey clubs in the Netherlands. With the Netherlands league completing revamping for 2015-16 and erasing the border with Belgium, Tilburg has decided to put their elite team in Germany with a lower ranked team still in the new BeNeLiga.
DeCoste played five years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2006-07 to 2010-11. Originally drafted by the Brampton Battalion in the fifth round of the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, 90th overall, DeCoste was well-travelled over his five years.
After starting out with Brampton, Kyle went on to play with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Belleville Bulls and his hometown London Knights. Over 252 regular season OHL games, DeCoste scored 48 and assisted on 47 for 95 points. He appeared in just eight playoff games, scoring one goal. His time in London was limited to the final game of his OHL career.
Not known as a high scorer, DeCoste had a bit of a breakout after the Greyhounds traded him to Belleville during the 2009-10 season. Playing just 44 games for the Bulls, Kyle’s 30 points was still good for seventh overall on the team.
After just his second year of OHL hockey, the Tampa Bay Lightning selected DeCoste in the fifth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, 147th overall. Instead of rushing to pro hockey, Kyle went the route of higher education and played in the OUA for the Western Mustangs. Over his three years with UWO, DeCoste found his offensive touch, contributing at nearly a point per game pace.
2015-16 has been a test in persistence for DeCoste. Already in September, he was denied by the Oberliga’s EHC Bayreuth after an unsuccessful tryout. He was scheduled to have a tryout with EHC Erfut but that was cancelled. It does look like a sure thing to start the season with the Trappers.
Founded in 1938, the Trappers play home games at the 2,500 seat IJssportcentrum in Tilburg, Netherlands, a venue that opened in 1996. As mentioned, this will the team’s first season playing across the border in Germany. The Trappers are coming off consecutive championships in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Since 1993-94, the team has won the prize eight times.
There will be a Tilburg Trappers II competing on home soil in the newly formed BeNeLiga. This new league consists of 16 teams from the Netherlands and Belgium. The BeNeLiga will be divided evenly into a Group A and Group B. The tier 2 Trappers will start the season in Group B.
Tilburg is a rare landlocked city in the Netherlands. The city is quite near the border with Belgium and has a population of around 210,000. The metro area swells to around 300,000.