Ask anyone, Jacob Truscott is a gamer.
Though he may not beat his own drum too loudly, Truscott’s defensive poise and knack for special teams are coveted traits for any hockey player. Coupled with his size and speed, he has all the tools to make any team better. And those skills turned into a successful bid to join Team USA at the World Junior Championship this week.
“I just see poise.” Team USA coach Nate Leaman said about Truscott’s performance on July 27. “I see two years of college hockey. … It doesn’t seem to me like anything is coming at him too fast.”
Poise is the perfect word for Truscott, as July’s National Junior Evaluation Camp proved once more that he is an integral piece of any blue line. The defensive-first Wolverine stood out throughout the course of the development camp, staying in control of the ice in front of him.
Truscott’s sturdy and stable presence on the back end — both with the Americans and the Michigan hockey team — provides a calming presence for any defensive unit. A rock-solid pillar for the Wolverines last season to complement then-freshman defenseman Luke Hughes, Truscott played a shutdown role that allowed Hughes to have his prolific 39-point freshman campaign.
His name doesn’t draw as much attention as his other counterparts, but Truscott’s role is invaluable.
With Truscott’s ability to own the defensive side of play, his teammates can open up their offensive creativity and let their skills create new dimensions to the game. That leads to plenty of flashy scoring opportunities, and with them, goals.
All of that value leads back to Truscott’s quiet work ethic on the blue line. But despite the lack of noise generated by his team-first play, his efforts to build on that success haven’t gone unnoticed.
“I mean, he’s really been getting after it in the gym,” rising sophomore forward Mackie Samoskevich said. “That’s one thing I’ve noticed. … I think he’ll be a leader on this team for sure.”
Samoskevich’s comments come in the wake of a necessary evaluation camp for Truscott. After narrowly missing Team USA last year — partially due to an upper body injury — his camp and subsequent promotion to Team USA demonstrates not only progress, but opportunity.
For Team USA, his role is clear:
“I’m hoping to take a big step in my penalty killing game,” Truscott said. “I think that’s a big role of mine moving forward and something I gotta take pride in. Hoping to pick up a few things here and transfer that into my game when fall comes.”
Although he takes pride in playing for his country, Truscott looks to excel in a defensive and special teams role that will also be necessary come fall. International play emphasizes the importance of special teams situations, and the Americans will look to Truscott for exactly that. Thus, with the departure of key defensive pieces this offseason, so too will the Wolverines.
And though he might not be the flashiest player on the ice, Truscott is ready for the jump.
“I’ve always thought he’s been a great defenseman.” former teammate Thomas Bordeleau said. “Obviously, he went to his first (development) camp this summer, so I was happy for him.”
That progress doesn’t come overnight. But Truscott’s noticeable effort has begun to pay dividends. After playing with top NHL prospect talent on the Wolverines last season, his offseason and subsequent development camp have been filled to the brim with talented influences.
Influences which have translated into Truscott’s current place as a key defensive figure. And while those top-end teammates may end the season with more tangible results, they can thank Truscott’s underrated defensive game for their success. His efforts behind closed doors are as much for others as they are for himself.
“We’re here from 6 in the morning to 6 at night,” Bordelau said. “And he’s just grinding, grinding a lot.”
His hard work has met an opportunity. For now, all signs are pointing toward a breakout year for Jacob Truscott. But that’s only the perception of those who haven’t watched him closely. Those paying attention know how quiet the work has been.
And how loud the results will be.