Shuchuk hoping to follow in father's footsteps
Hard work doesn't often show up in the statistics.
It finally did for Janesville Jets forward Alex Shuchuk over the weekend.
Shuchuk has spent his first season in Janesville grinding away, hoping his work ethic will improve his play. He scored his first goal of the season and added two assists as the Jets went 1-2 at Soo. It gave him five points in 25 games.
He'll attempt to add to that total, and the Jets hope to right their ship as the NAHL season hits its stretch run, when Janesville hosts Coulee Region for a two-game set on Friday and Saturday. Both games begin at 7 p.m.
“He's a kid that, from day one, he just brought his lunch pail to work,” Jets coach Joe Dibble said of Shuchuk. “He continues to just want to get better and better every week. He's not a flashy, blow-you-away hockey player, but he has a work ethic and a good hockey IQ. And when he can chip in some points, everybody's happy for him.”
It should be no surprise that a hockey player named Shuchuk has a high hockey IQ and the ability to put up some points.
Wisconsin hockey fans will remember his father, Gary, as a first-team All-American for the a Badgers team that won the NCAA Division I national championship in 1990. Gary is now an assistant with the Badgers, but he can sometimes be found at the Janesville Ice Arena if the Jets are home and UW is off.
Alex Shuchuk jokes that he was born with skates on and a stick in his hand.
“I'm totally OK with that; I love it,” he said. “I always looked up to my dad. He's a great guy and my role model. I strive to be just like him.
“Him playing in the NHL, and the number of points he put up at Wisconsin, I always knew it would take a lot of hard work to get to his level. But just to be associated with him is cool.”
Shuchuk still hopes to take his game to the next level and play Division I hockey.
While his offensive numbers this season aren't dazzling, he owns a +1 mark in the +/- statistic—essentially he's been on the ice for more even-strength goals than he has been when opponents score even-strength goals—which is third among active Jets players. And he's not afraid to bring a physical style of play to the rink.
“I consider myself more of a role player—penalty killer, faceoffs, blocking shots, the little things,” Shuchuk said. “And I try to at least have one big hit a game.”
The Janesville Jets will officially reach the two-thirds pole in their season at the end of Friday night's home game against Coulee Region.
They've got some ground to make up in the NAHL North, where they're in sixth place. The top four teams make the playoffs, and they're 10 points behind Springfield.
They have, however, played fewer games than any other team in the division.
“We made some changes and brought some new guys in (in recent weeks), and it doesn't just happen overnight to get that camaraderie and whatnot,” Jets coach Joe Dibble said. “We still control our own destiny.
“Our goal scorers aren't scoring goals right now. We need them to put up points. We can't just have one of them. We need our big guns to be our big guns.”
Jets players make Top Prospects rosters
Five Janesville players were named to teams that will play in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament next month.
Forwards Drew Callin and Robin Hoglund made the NAHL North team.
Goalie Logan Halladay, defenseman Carson Vance and forward Kyle Patava will play for the 18U Selects team.
“It's a huge accomplishment, especially for that U18 team,” Dibble said. “That's our entire NAHL saying, 'These are the best 20 (younger players) in the league.' And we have the most kids on that roster. We build young teams, have the past couple years, and it's nice to see them get rewarded.”
The tournament is Feb. 17-18 in Troy, Mich.