When Ryan Tverberg arrived at UConn early in December 2020, head coach Mike Cavanaugh was admittedly not that familiar with the team’s newest player.
âI didn’t know much about him. Joe [Pereira] had seen him play live, âhe said on Thursday. “The only thing I saw was that he – on video – played a few games in the BCHL.”
It’s also hard to blame the coach. Due to the pandemic, the NCAA started all recruiting trips and Tverberg did not commit to the huskies until November 17, 2020.
Although the original plan was for Tverberg to join UConn as a member of the 2021 recruiting class, the team decided to bring him on early to build his forward depth and allow him to get wet feet at college level. Although Tverberg was selected in the seventh round of the Toronto Maples Leafs in the 2020 NHL Draft, UConn has softened its expectations of him.
“We thought we needed more depth than strikers last year and with just his skating we thought he would fit in and be able to be a fourth-row player when we need it,” said Cavanaugh.
After four goals and three assists in seven games in the 2020/21 season, Tverberg has exploded with nine goals and 16 points in the team this season. On Wednesday, Tverberg was rewarded for his breakout season when he was named one of 35 players invited to Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp, where he will compete for a spot on the World Juniors roster.
For Tverberg the news came as a bit of a surprise. Despite being a dual Canadian-American citizen, he learned on Tuesday that he was not eligible to play for Team USA at the World Juniors. With the amount of ice hockey talent Canada produces, Tverberg probably thought an invitation from them was a stretch.
âTo be honest, I was thrilled with it. Not many people come by, âsaid Tverberg. âIt was just shocking because earlier that day I realized that the US wasn’t going to work because I didn’t play there when I grew up so I wasn’t fit for theirs. I kind of didn’t know and then going to Canada’s camp is great because it’s a winning tradition – always a tradition of being the best. “
Tverberg is one of only three college players who will be attending the camp. The other two are Owen Power, number 1 overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft, and Kent Johnson, number 5 overall selection – both playing for Michigan.
While the Huskies expected Tverberg to eventually become a productive player for them, few could predict his meteoric rise in the past 12 months – Tverberg included.
“Absolutely not,” he said when asked if he could attend World Juniors Camp in Canada around this time last year. “But here we are.”
“Little did I know he was going to be so dynamic offensively,” said Cavanaugh. âIt says a lot about his development as a player here over the last year and we’re really excited and proud of him. I press. I really hope that he can make the team. “
Tverberg’s numbers this season likely got him on Hockey Canada’s radar initially, but he wouldn’t have received the invite if he hadn’t improved his physical play and defense. Speed ââand dexterity are his calling cards, but Tverberg has joined in on a few open-ice hits and is determined to hit a few pucks this season as well.
âI think what makes him so appealing to Hockey Canada is that he’s dexterous and quick enough to play on your first two lines when you need him, but he’s also tough enough and quick enough to play on your play the bottom two lines when you need it. “Said Cavanaugh. âHe has shown that he can take penalties. So he’s a very attractive player who is also very versatile. “
“The biggest change in his game is not just becoming a one-trick pony offensively, but becoming a full 200-foot player,” he later added.
UConn has a tradition, albeit a short one, of sending players to World Juniors. Last year both Vladislav Firstov and Yan Kuznetsov played for Russia and in 2019 Jachym Kondelik was in the Czech Republic’s squad. Adam Huska went with Slovakia in 2016 and 2017, while Tage Thompson won gold with Team USA in 2017.
If Tverberg makes it into Canada’s roster, he would miss the Huskies’ first game from the winter break on January 2nd, as the tournament runs from December 26th to January 5th. Because of this, Cavanaugh would be more than fine without Tverberg. although. It would also make the coach do something he has never done in his entire life.
“I told the Canadians when they asked if he could leave and said, ‘Yeah … I hope he makes it because it could be the first year I defend for Canada,'” said Cavanaugh.
Jonny Evans is set to return after missing the last two games with an upper body injury. However, UConn is addressing COVID issues for the first time this season. Cavanaugh said “a few” players are on the COVID log, despite not saying who they were.
“I don’t know if we’ll have them again tomorrow,” he said.
date: Friday, December 3rd | Saturday 4th December
Time: 19:00 (Friday) | 3:05 p.m. (Saturday)
Location: Lawler Rink, North Andover, MA (Friday) | XL Center, Hartford, CT (Saturday)
Streaming: SportLive (Friday) | NESN + (Saturday)