Matthew Tkachuk, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, is in his first season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound left wing has 22 goals and 81 points in 43 games. He had 38 goals and 96 points in 65 games with USA Hockey's Under-18 National Team Development Program last season. The St. Louis native has offered to maintain a blog for NHL.com leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, N.Y.
Hello, hockey fans!
As you may know, I received a two-game suspension for a slew-foot penalty against Erie (on Feb. 10). I do like to play on the edge a little bit, and sometimes I know that will get you sent to the penalty box for that odd penalty every once in a while. So I got the penalty and received an automatic suspension. I know it's something I need to be a little more careful about because I certainly don't want to put my team in a hole by missing games.
Luckily we were able to come back and had a huge win against Niagara (3-1 on Feb. 12) and were close to bringing it to overtime against Sarnia (2-1 loss on Feb. 13). We were there in those games but I definitely felt like I wanted to be out there to help the team win. That was the frustrating part about the suspension.
I think we're finding our groove right now in London and it's exciting to see. We're really playing good hockey and, unlike the beginning of the year, the games have been more low-scoring so it just shows that we can win a tighter game too. At the beginning of the year we were more of a run-and-gun team and winning high-scoring games. Now we're playing a complete game and I really like our chances the rest of the season and in the OHL playoffs.
It was pretty cool on Monday (Feb. 15) to see most of the family members of the London players since it was family day. My mom and dad couldn't make but they'll be here Friday (Feb. 19) for our game against Barrie. My mom was in St. Louis, and my dad was watching my brother, Brady, play for the United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. Family day in London is one of those days where they put an emphasis on the people who got you here. It's nice to see all the kids in attendance. Many are at the game on a trip from school, so seeing the younger kids get into it is just cool.
I recently heard that I had the highest percentage of votes on London's website that asked fans which player they think would receive the most Valentine's Day candy grams. That was pretty cool and thanks to the fans who voted for me. The London Knights are a very popular junior hockey team all over the Toronto area. As players, it's just as important giving back to them at events or games. We're always playing for our fans, teammates and coaches; the whole city of London. Our play reflects their cheering and support, I guess.
Finally, with 14 games remaining in the regular season, we wouldn't mind finishing atop the Ontario Hockey League to get that top seed and earn home ice throughout the whole playoffs. We also want to play well down the stretch to gain momentum heading into the playoffs; you obviously want to be playing well. We're in a playoff mode right now and teams are gunning to make the playoffs, gunning to get home ice. So it's important to keep our heads on straight, play to win.
Until next month!