This time last year, Dylan Sikura was lacing up his skates in Boston, but it wasn't in a Chicago Blackhawks sweater. It was in his Northeastern University gear.
Sikura was a member of the Northeastern squad that beat Boston University for Beanpot supremacy for the first time in decades.
"It's one of it not the biggest reason I returned my senior year, to try and get that trophy," said Sikura, who was recalled by Chicago on Monday just in time for a return to Boston where the team will play on Tuesday night.
"For us, it was the first time in 30 years [we won.] It was pretty surreal. It was something that team will share forever."
Sometimes, things just work out. Sikura's return to the Blackhawks just so happens to coincide with this year's Beanpot final. This time around, Sikura will be attending as a fan.
"I'll be able to catch that game and hopefully see the guys bring it home again," he said. "That'd be pretty special. It's good timing, I guess. Funny how it works. I'm excited to be going back and cheering on the guys."
While Sikura is excited to be back with friends - roughly 15 of which will be in attendance to watch him play in Boston - he understands this is a business trip. The Blackhawks face the Bruins with a seven-game win streak on the line and Sikura will be in the lineup.
The talented forward has yet to find the kind of offensive production he's capable of at this level. But Tuesday night is another opportunity to build off of his last stint in the NHL.
"His stock went up in my eyes his last stretch here," said Blackhawks Head Coach Jeremy Colliton. "We just had some numbers and I think when he wasn't going to play in the top nine consistently I felt it was better for him to go to Rockford and now he's getting another chance. It will be fun to see how he reacts to that opportunity and, hopefully, he grabs onto it and doesn't allow us to send him down again."
Sikura leads the Rockford IceHogs in points this season with 30, as well as in goals with 13 in 40 games played. His recipe for success in the NHL is simple.
"I think it's just being more comfortable," he said. "My first stint up here was my first real chance I got to experience what the NHL is like and know which parts of the game when you go back down you need to work on. I think I did a good job with that and I think now to stay it's just continue to play your game and do things out there that have got you to this point and hopefully I can just help out any way I can."
The biggest thing he learned from his 11 games in the NHL earlier this year is that, while it is a more difficult league to play in, there are still opportunities to seize.
"It's a tough league. There isn't a lot of time and space out there. Guys are bigger and stronger than they are down in the AHL. But at the same time, there are plays to be made out there and I think I'm a player that likes to make those plays. Hopefully, I can find a little confidence here and continue to help the team on this win streak and keep pushing as far as I can go."
Chicago and Boston face off at 6 p.m. CT. The game can be seen on NBCSCH or heard on WGN 720.