SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — No part of the game is too small for Jacob Truscott. Throughout every aspect of the competition, the junior defenseman works to elevate his play. One of the No. 5 Michigan hockey team’s assistant captains, he doesn’t shy away from any aspect of the game.
And once again, Truscott’s well-rounded impact played an integral role for the Wolverines as his noticeable style helped lift them to a 5-2 win against Lake Superior State. Throughout the matchup, Truscott succeeded in his contributions. Despite a continuous stream of momentum changes, his game refused to waver.
Finishing with four points, Truscott influenced each level of play, chipping in a blocked shot and rebounding from the Lakers’ physical attempts to knock the Wolverines out of the game. For Michigan coach Brandon Naurato, it was emblematic of his deep skillset.
“Good for Jacob Truscott,” Naurato said. “He takes a big hit, comes back — I know he had a goal and three assists — but blocking shots, (and he) comes back after that hit.”
Truscott made his presence known early, crowding the Lakers’ offensive lanes, and eventually logging a blocked shot to boot. On the other end, the defenseman helped open up the scoring early, wristing a cross-ice pass on freshman forward Adam Fantilli’s second goal of the night.
Yet it was his versatility that was paramount. After drawing a boarding penalty from a late hit in the corner of his defensive zone, Truscott rebounded, taking the puck on the offensive blue line and faking a slapshot, before floating a goal over the shoulder of Lake Superior State goaltender Ethan Langenegger.
His hands coming up in celebration, Truscott seemed surprised at the end result.
“I think it hit off one of their players,” Truscott said. “We got a fortunate bounce, but it was good.”
However, Truscott’s impact doesn’t simply come from pure chance. By contributing on both ends of the ice, his positive play compounds, giving dividends for himself and his teammates.
Already with two points to his name, Truscott doubled down on his play. In the early minutes of the second period, the assistant captain battled a scrum of Lakers along the boards, keeping the puck in the offensive zone. After knocking the puck loose, Truscott sent the it over to freshman forward T.J. Hughes who chipped it to Kienan Draper for a goal that put Michigan up 4-0.
Despite already maintaining a lead, Truscott’s relentlessness on the road helped propel his team to victory. A junior, his experienced career provided a necessary preparation for a Wolverine team competing in its first away game of the season. A game they walked away victorious from due, in part, to his well-rounded play.
“He just does everything right,” Naurato said. “He’s defense first and there’s way more offense in him. … He’s gonna play this game for a long time because of what he does without the puck, but he’s showing people that he can play with it, too.”
Truscott’s play was not just helpful, but necessary. As Michigan began to let off the gas, Lake Superior State mounted a comeback, netting two goals to enter into striking distance with time to spare in the third.
From here, Truscott shut the door.
Though his actions down the stretch may not have warranted a notch in the final box score, Truscott’s dependability and poise helped stiffen the Wolverines’ defense, and stifle the Lakers’ offensive hopes.
As a reward for his dedicated play, Truscott grabbed his final assist of the game on an empty-net goal for Fantilli. Still, Truscott remains hungry.
“I thought I was good,” Truscott said. “I thought I was strong defensively and stuff like that, but I gotta keep getting better at things and never be satisfied.”
Satisfied or not, with the presence of Truscott, Michigan’s strengths compound — strengths which could make all the difference down the stretch.