The early life of Alex Lyon is not one you hear all too often when referring to someone on an NHL roster. Lyon grew up on an island in Baudette Minn. for the first seven years, with his parents and older sister. His parents managed a fishing lodge on the island, which forced Alex’s sister Sam and him to take a rowboat to school. In 2000 the Lyons would move back to the mainland in Baudette, which is when Alex began to play hockey.
“Baudette has about 1,000 people,” Ian Sugden, a High School classmate of Lyon, told Lindsey Willhite of AHL On The Beat.
The only thing there is to do up there is hunt, fish and play hockey,” said Stephen Slick, another one of Lyon’s Classmates telling Lindsey Willhite.
“I think the really odd thing that happened was we grew up with a group of 23 boys, and we had a group of probably 15 of us that were so incredibly competitive and talented that we drove each other,” Lyon said to Willhite.
The young Lyon graduated with very small class size, and out of the 23 males in his senior class, 15 of them played hockey. Lyon was the starting goalie for the Lake of the Woods varsity hockey team. He started all 26 games during his senior season, posting a .919 save percentage. Hockey wasn’t the only sport that Lyon played, in the Fall he was a starting offensive lineman, tight end, linebacker, and defensive end on the gridiron. He also competed on the diamond, playing shortstop.
After his high school playing career, Lyon joined the Omaha Lancers in the USHL. In two seasons, Lyon started 98 games going 54-36 and five shutouts. He had above a 0.910 save percentage while allowing less than three goals per game in both of his seasons. He committed to play hockey for Yale University in the 2013-14 season.
In his first season with Yale University, He was named Ivy League co-Rookie of the Year in 2014 after winning 14 games. The accolades didn’t end there for Alex, after leading the nation in save percentage(0.939 Sv%), shutouts (7), and goals-against average (1.67), Lyon was awarded the Ken Dryden Trophy is given to the best goalie in the ECAC. He also received First-Team AHCA/CCM All-America, First-Team All-ECAC, First-Team All-New England, and First-Team All-Ivy League honors. His Junior season followed suit, repeating as the Ken Dryden Award winner and many of the same First Team honors.
He decided to forgo his senior season at Yale University and instead sign an entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in April of the 2016 season. He would start 47 games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, posting a .912 save percentage and a 2.74 goals-against average during the 2016-17 season. This season proved to the entire organization that Alex Lyon was ready to get some NHL action, which he would eventually get the following season.
Lyon made his NHL debut on Feb. 1, 2018, against the New Jersey Devils, losing 4-3. He would later get his first career NHL win on Feb. 18, after he replaced an injured Michal Neuvirth in the second period. Lyon saved 25 of 26 shots en route to a 7-4 win against the New York Rangers. Lyon was a part of the Flyers organization for the following two seasons, bouncing up and down from the NHL and AHL.
In the summer of the 2020-21 season, Lyon left the Flyers organization for free agency after spending five seasons with the team. In free agency, Lyon signed a one-year two-way contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. The accolades found Lyon once again with the Hurricanes AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves in the 2021-22 season. While only playing two games in the NHL, Lyon was the star of the Wolves in the AHL, finishing the season with 18 wins and 3 shutouts, while having a stellar 2.16 Goals Against Average. This was good enough to earn him the Hap Holmes Memorial Award, given to the AHL goaltender with the lowest goals-against average. Lyon stepped up in a big way in the AHL playoffs, adding two shutouts, which included a 28-save performance in the final game of the Calder Cup.
Lyon joined the Florida Panthers in the 2022 offseason, signing a two-way contract. Lyon played most of the season with the AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers before getting called up more than halfway through the season because of the departure of Panthers goaltender Spencer Knight. Lyon didn’t see too much action between the pipes until starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was sidelined by an Illness. At this point, Alex Lyon went from an NHL journeyman goalie to a No. 1 who was depended on by an entire franchise.
When Lyon took over in the crease, the Panthers were fighting for a wildcard spot, and looking to snap a four-game skid. Lyon’s first start after taking over as the No.1 goalie was against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Mar. 29, and he made his name heard. Lyon made 38 saves in a 3-2 overtime victory to snap the Panther’s four-game skid, and the next night he made 18 saves in a 5-2 win.
Lyon would go on to win the next four games to complete a six-game winning streak, which put him in a class of his own. He is the first goalie to win six straight games during his first season with the Panthers, stopping 194 of 203 shots, a 1.50 goals-against average, and a .956 save percentage. All this energized the Panthers to make the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second Wild Card team in the Eastern Conference, and thus, the “Lyon King” nickname was born.
Lyon continued to start for the Panthers, while long-time starter Bobrovsky served as the backup for the first three games of the playoffs against the number one-seeded Boston Bruins, before being pulled in game three.
The Panthers are currently looking to win their first-ever Stanley Cup Trophy, as they are up in their series versus the Carolina Hurricanes in the Conference Finals.
Alexander Augustus Lyon, a small-town kid who rowboat to school for several years, and graduated in a class with only 23 boys, 15 of which he played hockey with, is now part of a team who is making a historical postseason run. And The Lyon King was a vital piece in bringing the Panthers from outside of the playoff picture in March to being in the Stanley Cup Final in June.
Check out Lyon’s stats throughout his career at Elite Prospects – https://www.eliteprospects.com/player/114768/alex-lyon