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'House'hold name in academics

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Tanner House is an intelligent young man. On the ice, he's a tenacious two-way centre, and away from the rink he's a well-read graduate of the University of Maine. Both have proven valuable for an Oilers organization that's worked hard to replenish team's prospect pool in Oklahoma City.

Tanner House scored 10 goals & 35 points in 35 games last season in Maine (Photo by Steven Chrisy / OKC Barons).

Four seasons of NCAA hockey yielded a dynamic two-way arsenal. Perhaps more importantly, he earned a degree in finance, helping to establish a long-term alternative with hockey's uncertain post-career agenda.

"Education is pretty important," House remarked. "I think it shows my competitiveness. I wanted to get the A's because I'm competitive; my roommates and I would compete all the time on tests and whatever else.

"I was proud to get a scholarship and have my education paid for, so I made sure I made the most of it and got my degree. It's going to be huge when hockey is over. You can't play forever."

Coincidental or not (not), Edmonton has recently been signing a number of players who have taken the college route; those especially that have excelled in an academic role, in addition to their well-developed on-ice talent.

He's an excellent player, but House is a scholar in every sense of the word. His soaring GPA at Maine earned him a place on Hockey East's Academic Honour Roll, as well as his school's top male student-athlete award. In addition to all that, he was named to the Dean's List each year, putting a unique cap on his four-year academic career.

His 35-game schedule needed to be balanced with school assignments, putting a wrench into social plans and an eight-hour sleep schedule. House's calendar was obviously hectic, but worth the exhaustion and late-night study sessions that occupied each evening.

"There are a lot of nights when you get home from practice and you don't really want to do any work, but you've got to bear down," he explained. "We had a lot of help, a lot of support that helped us throughout. You take some summer classes, some online classes, so it wasn't too bad."

Schoolwork aside, a hockey career was quietly thriving under the same circumstances. House scored 10 goals, adding 25 assists for 35 points in 35 games last season in Maine. Although production was high, House insists he's known as a defensive player.

"I take pride in that part of the game," he said. "The penalty kill is a big thing for me, too. Just making sure I'm doing all the little things right; making the smart play."

The Oilers recently acquired ace Eric Belanger, but a solid faceoff man can always create waves within an organization. House took nearly 200 draws last year, leading his club there and in success rate. He came away victorious on 59.6 percent of his duels in the dot.

"It got me in a lot of key situations. To be able to get out there in last minute of games, power-play, penalty kill, taking those key draws. It's a big part of my game and it's something I'm always working on. Guys were bigger and stronger [in Oklahoma City], so I'm going to be working on that. That's a big key in my game."

It's an area that could potentially lead to a role with the Oilers one day. Until then, he'll work to practice his trade with the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons next season, hoping to earn a call-up to Edmonton during the season.

House skated in six regular season games with the Barons, but valuable experience was gained when OKC challenged Hamilton in post-season action. All in, House played nine games, totaling two goals and six points.

Coming to Development Camp in Edmonton, he's been able to share the experience with Barons coaches Todd Nelson and Rocky Thompson. Both have been excellent mentors for the 25-year-old pivot and will be running the show this week in Sherwood Park.

"They were good," House said. "They supported me a lot and were always bringing me in and talking to me. It was a really good experience down there.

"You're not coached as much [in the AHL]. You've got to be ready to go. It really is a profession. You've got to act like a professional away from the ice as well. I needed to make sure that I was taking it upon myself to be ready to go."

House was a quick learner in the classroom, but he's continually working toward bigger and better things on the ice as well. A quick lesson abroad in OKC taught him all he needed to know going forward.

"One thing I noticed going to Oklahoma City is that guys are bigger and stronger. I was a bigger guy in college, but not so much in pro.

"I need to keep working on my strength and conditioning, and obviously keep working on my skating. That's been my downfall growing up a little bit, so that's something I need work on really hard over the summer."

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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