BUFFALO, New York – Brock Boeser has overcome a lot to get here.
Last August, he captained the US to a bronze medal at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, finishing in a tie for first in goals (six) and second in points (eight), three back of the tournament leader and longtime friend, Thomas Novak.
Incredibly, he did it all with a heavy heart. Four thousand five hundred miles away, his friend Ty Alyea was killed in a car accident that left three others critically injured, including his high-school linemate Cole Borchardt, who just recently began walking after months in the hospital.
Boeser was understandably crushed by the news, but he pushed back in the face of adversity, honouring his friends by giving chase to a dream – the one they all pushed him to pursue.
The Burnsville, MN native led the United States Hockey League with 35 goals last season. He added 33 assists for 68 points, finishing third in league scoring.
Despite it being a breakout year, Boeser wants more. When asked about what he wanted to improve on, Boeser targeted speed as his top priority.
“Definitely my explosiveness. My first three strides,” he said. “I think that can come a long way still and that will help round me out as a player.”
Boeser met with 28 teams at the Combine and specifically mentioned the Jets when asked about some of the more memorable encounters.
“I know their scouts pretty well and I got a chance to meet the general manager (Kevin Cheveldayoff),” he said.
“It went well. … I’m an outgoing kid. I like building a relationship with the guys in the room. The hardest one was Pittsburgh, but it was still pretty good.”
Boeser ranks 27th among North American skaters, but he believes his ability far exceeds that.
“I don’t look at that stuff too much. I know every team has (its) own agenda on how to rank players. I believe I can go a little higher, so those are my expectations going into the draft.”
Boeser has committed to the University of North Dakota next season. Dave Hakstol – UND’s main man for the past 11 seasons before accepting the head-coaching position with the Philadelphia Flyers – was part of the recruiting process, but the winger’s expectations haven’t changed.
“(New head coach) Brad Barry will do a good job stepping in,” Boeser said.
“I’ve got a great relationship with everyone there. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”