Ice Hockey

Jacob Truscott shows his offensive prowess in Michigan’s OT win


MINNEAPOLIS — Game on your stick, who do you call?

On Saturday night, the No 8. Michigan hockey team’s answer was Jacob Truscott.

Needing a clutch goal, the Wolverines might often turn to a star like freshman forward Adam Fantilli or sophomore defenseman Luke Hughes. Most times, the junior shutdown defenseman in Truscott makes his best plays outside of the spotlight, deep in the defensive zone. 

But as Truscott sniped the game-winning goal — his second of the night — just inside the post in overtime, clinching the victory for Michigan over No. 2 Minnesota, he proved that he’s not just good at preventing goals — he can score them too.  

“Great for Truscott,” Michigan coach Brandon Naurato said. “He’s got a lot of offense in him, and he’s starting to show it a lot more. But he’s defense first, so happy for him.”

Just as Naurato mentioned, Truscott’s game still primarily relies on his defense. As he forced himself into passing lanes and poke-checked pucks off the sticks of the Golden Gophers’ star top-line forwards again and again, Truscott made that much clear. Leading a penalty kill unit that limited Minnesota’s fourth-in-the-nation power play to one goal on five tries only strengthened his defensive resume. 

But when the Wolverines needed him most tonight, it was his offense that delivered.  

His first goal began when, tied at three with three minutes left in the second period, Truscott collected himself at the blue line and reset the offense. Looking to make something happen, he fired a wrister into the sea of bodies crowded at the net front. By the time the puck finished pinballing around, it landed on the stick of freshman forward T.J. Hughes, who stood just right of the net with no real angle to shoot. 

Truscott saw an opportunity, though. With the Gophers defense focused on Hughes, he crashed the left side of the net. Hughes split two defenseman, passing the puck right to Truscott’s stick in front of a wide-open net. He easily converted, putting Michigan up 4-3.

“I thought we played a good game,” Truscott humbly answered in response to a question about his personal success. “(junior goaltender Erik Portillo) helped the D out a lot and allowed us to produce a little. I just thought we stuck to the game plan.”

As much as the ever-quiet, lead-by-example assistant captain Truscott might prefer to deflect praise to the game plan or his teammates, he was the one who came through in the clutch. While doubling his goal tally for the season in just one night, Truscott shined on the biggest stage. 

And on that big stage, in the biggest moment, his oft-dormant offensive prowess woke up again to deliver in the clutch. 

When Michigan called on him in overtime, when Luke Hughes pulled back at the point looking for help, Truscott answered. 

“Luke makes a nice pass, and a great shot by Truscott,” Naurato said.

Naurato puts it lightly. When Truscott beat Minnesota goaltender Justen Close — arguably the best goalie in college hockey — one on one, it took more than a great shot. It took a perfectly-placed rocket of a wrister to fit it into the rapidly closing hole between Close’s pad and the post, relieving all fears of a repeat of Friday’s loss.

When the game was on the line, it wasn’t Truscott’s patented defense or trademark unselfishness that won it. It was his unheralded shot, winning a battle that Close beat the Wolverines in so many times throughout the night. 

Maybe, with so many offensive-minded players around him, Michigan won’t need to call Truscott’s number for a game-winning goal again. 

But if they do, the Wolverines know he’ll pick up.



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