Braeden Tuck of the Sacred Heart University Pioneers is having a season that has made him one of 77 nominees representing 42 NCAA schools for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, as college hockey’s best player.
Being in that group is “obviously pretty cool” Tuck said, an alum of the Osoyoos Coyotes, his second time being a nominee.
“I think I’ve been pretty blessed here at Sacred Heart and had good coaching and great teammates which makes it pretty easy for me, but whenever you can get some recognition like that it’s obviously pretty cool,” he said. “There’s some really good players on that list.”
He was “a little bit shocked” to learn he was among the nominees and didn’t know that was coming. Tuck said the season has been an up and down for the team, with consistency being the big thing for them trying to find their A game every night.
“I think that sort of goes for my game a bit too, but we’ve shown we can play with just about anybody in the country,” he said. “We lost to Quinnipiac who is I think ranked fifth in the country. We’ve proved that we’re a good team and we just have to find a way to sort of do that every night.”
Tuck, the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year for the Bill Ohlhausen Division, was named a co-captain at the end of last spring’s workouts.
“It’s pretty cool, I take a lot of pride in that,” said Tuck. “It’s an honour for sure.”
Tuck takes pride in doing the small things and the small details the team preaches and being a good example. Tuck has 10 goals and 19 points in 30 games. Tuck is one goal away from matching his output from the previous two seasons combined. In 52 games coming into this season, Tuck had 11 goals and 44 points.
“I’ve never really been a guy who tries to focus too much on points because I’ve always felt that over my career I might have a bad game, but I get two assists, or I have a great game and do a lot of good things, but don’t get any points so I try not to let that really influence the way I play,” said the six-foot-one, 170 pound forward.
Tuck is a firm believer that if a player is doing the right things, focused on the details, the offence will come. When he’s struggling to produce, the Calgary, Alberta native pays more attention to the smaller details and doing work along the boards and being strong in the defensive zone.
Playing a strong, defensive game has always mattered to Tuck since he was younger. That approach was driven by his father. He feels he has improved in that area and as he’s progressed as a player in general, his game has progressed, but especially coming to college hockey where the details are so much more fine tuned.
“Something that I’ve been wanting to do this year is possess the puck more and just be a little bit more confident making plays in the offensive zone,” he said. “A lot of the time I try to make the simple play which is a good thing, but there’s times where maybe there’s a better play to be made. I think that’s more of a mentality than anything.”
Tuck leads by example and works hard everyday in practice and tries to do the right thing and be a good model. The Pioneers have a lot of good, older guys who’ve played a lot of college hockey.
“I try to speak up too and make sure everybody’s on the same page and everybody’s on board and we’re all pulling the rope in the same direction,” he said.
He acknowledges that as captain there is more pressure, he can’t take a day off and if he’s trying to hold his teammates accountable, he has to be doing the same.
“It’s difficult to try to go and ask more of somebody when I’m not doing that myself,” he said.
You can vote for Tuck for the Hobey Baker Award here.