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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Raven plays young Wayne Gretzky in new commercial

- Donates most of his earnings to buy mini sticks and nets for Ronald McDonald House

Photo submitted by Julie Vriesema: Ty Vriesema, 12, recently played a young Wayne Gretzky in a new Tim Hortons commercial, depicting his life story.

by Sylene Argent

Twelve-year-old Essex resident, Ty Vriesema, never imagine his on-ice ability, and love for Canada’s favourite pastime, would land him a role playing a young Wayne Gretzky in a new Tim Hortons commercial.

  The commercial, titled “The Autograph” hit airwaves last week.

   The centreman, who currently plays for the Essex Ravens’ Pewee Major travel team, first learned of auditions for the commercial through his mom, Julie.

  After signing up and submitting a video of him playing hockey, Vriesema traveled to Toronto for an interview.

  Vriesema was surprised when he learned he landed the role. He was told a major appeal he had for the role was that his jawline was very similar to Gretzky’s.  

  While filming from 8 am - 7 pm in a Toronto arena, Vriesema was fitted in vintage costumes and went through a dress rehearsal.

In playing Gretzky, Vriesema – a naturally playing right-handed player – had to learn to play left-handed. This was something he was not sure he would be able to accomplish, but found some success at it after practicing with a friend.

  Vriesema said he knew a bit about “The Great One” as an Edmonton Oilers fan. As a player, he likes the way Gretzky would control the puck and appreciated his powerful shot.

  “It’s awesome. It feels good to be in a hockey commercial,” he said, noting he himself has been skating since he could walk. He started playing hockey in grade three for Lambton Shores in Forest, Ontario. He has been on a travel team for the Essex Ravens for the past three years. He has been a part of a Silver Stick winning hockey team for the past three years, two of which were with the Ravens.  

  The majority of the money Vriesema earned for his role in the commercial will go to buying mini hockey sticks and nets for Ronald McDonald Houses in Windsor and London, so the youth staying there can play with them.

  Vriesema’s older brother spent some time in a Ronald McDonald House after being in a car accident, so he understands the stress families using the facility feel, and wanted to bring them some joy during the holiday season.

  With having been bit with the acting bug, Vriesema said he has his eyes open for other opportunities.


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