The 19-year-old finished his freshman year at Boston College — and like most of his peers, relished that first taste of college life. But it was no ordinary year for the Wild’s 2014 first-round draft pick.
Between the Draft, the Wild’s development camp in July, and starting college in the fall, Tuch had quite a few pucks on the ice. He didn’t miss a shot. In his freshman campaign he led the Golden Eagles with 28 points on 14 goals and 14 assists through 37 games played — missing one lone contest on the year.
It’s certainly a natural phenomenon for a freshman to miss a few games, especially as they get acclimated to college life and their new team. That is not why Tuch missed a game. No, he was in Montreal, playing in the World Junior Championship for Team USA.
Through five games in the tournament, Tuch picked up a goal and an assist. Team USA didn’t medal, suffering a tough 3-2 loss to Russia in the quarterfinals.
“Busy” would be the word of choice to sum up his year.
“The Draft kind of flew by,” Tuch said upon reflection. “I feel like it was only a few months ago but it’s been a whole year now. It’s all just flown by but it’s been really fun.”
The Syracuse, NY native is back home for the summer with his offseason workout plan in full swing. Working out and skating four days a week on top of mixing in boxing a few times, Tuch is prepping for the Wild’s 2015 Development Camp in July, USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp in August and, naturally, his sophomore season at Boston College.
Back home, the 6-foot-4, 213-pound forward does give himself some time off, hanging out with friends, going golfing or spending time with family. But later in the summer he’ll combine work and play with his annual hockey camp that he hosts each summer.
Through the two-week camp, Tuch advises youngsters from the area, but each summer it has grown. This August, he’ll oversee 70 youngsters from all over New York and Boston. With greater attendance numbers, his friends Anthony Angello (Pittsburgh, 2014 5th round) and Zach Sanford (Washington, 2013 2nd round) will also serve as coaches alongside Tuch.
It’s a great opportunity for new or developing young players to learn first-hand from a trio of skaters who were in their shoes not too long ago. But the youngsters aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits — coaching also helps Tuch learn about his own game.
“Every time you coach someone, you learn something about your own playing ability,” Tuch said. “Something that you teach a kid, you think about in the back of your head. It helps you hockey-wise, but as a person, it really helps me become better at working with others. I have to handle parents and keeping in touch with kids. I’m already an outgoing person and I just love doing it; it’s a lot of fun. It puts smiles on kids’ faces and it gives me a big smile too.”
The initial idea of the camp struck the 19-year-old after growing up next door to an NHL role model of his own, Tim Connolly who played in 697 games as a member of the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs. Wild.com spoke to Tuch about the camp last fall, in which the prospect noted seeing the sacrifices Connolly made in order to make his NHL dream a reality. Now Tuch is acting as that role model for young hockey players in Syracuse and greater New York.
“Living next to him put the thought in the back of my head that I can, even from Syracuse, get to the pro level. That really helped,” Tuch said. “The kids being able to see me skate, to skate with me and be coached by me — that really helps them and motivates them to work hard.”
While Tuch inspires those young skaters, he, himself, has a deep well of motivation. Following a whirlwind year, he’s continuing to work hard and sacrifice the typical 19-year-old life, chipping away at becoming an NHLer.
“People in my position have to take everything more seriously,” Tuch said. “We mature a lot faster than most people my age because you have to sacrifice a lot of things the average kid can do on a daily basis. That part is tough but that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. I love playing hockey and love what I’m doing right now. So it’s all worth it. I wouldn’t change anything.”