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Photo Credit: Rena Laverty via usahockeyntdp.com

Jacob Truscott is now a penalty killer and has a chance to play for USA at the 2022 World Junior Championships

I’m back with another article from an interview with a Canucks prospect.

It’s a shocker, I know.

On this Wednesday’s episode of the Canucks Conversation podcast, we are joined by Canucks 2020 fifth-round pick and defenceman at the University of Michigan, Jacob Truscott.

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We talked about a variety of different topics from Cinnamon Toast Crunch, to the World Junior Summer Showcase camp.

After his freshman season with Michigan with no fans in the stands, Truscott said he was happy with how things went in his first year of NCAA hockey but the fact that he wasn’t able to experience the Michigan hockey fanbase was extremely unfortunate.

“Obviously it was a lot different,” said Truscott. “It was a great year aside from the COVID stuff. People talk about the college atmosphere, and we didn’t really get that this year but hopefully this upcoming season we’ll get fans in the building and be able to play in front of a crowd. It was different because of COVID but I took a lot out of it and got a lot of good out of it.”

Truscott is a born and raised Michigander, Michiganian or Michiganite. He has always dreamed of playing hockey for the University of Michigan and to have his first year be in front of no fans was a bit of a letdown. He still got to live out a childhood dream of beating up on some of Michigan’s rivals. His Wolverines outscored Michigan State and Ohio State by a count of 32-8 this year and it included some blowouts.

“I grew up not liking those schools and always cheering against them,” said Truscott. “To be able to play in a rival game was pretty surreal. It just gives you a little edge and gets you that much more pumped up for the game. It’s kind of a reason to pound on them and get the W. We had a good record against all our rivals, so that was definitely fun.”

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Michigan had an excellent left side on their defence this past season. Anchored by Owen Power — the projected first overall pick at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft — and flanked by the 14th pick in the 2019 draft, Cam York, Truscott has a tough hill to climb to get minutes. He made an adjustment by adding penalty killing to his toolbelt while also looking comfortable playing defence on the right side.

He wanted to come into his freshman season and just make the simple plays while also being defensively responsible. One of the parts of Truscott’s game that caught my eye was his defence in the neutral zone.

He doesn’t wait for the opposition to come to him, he will attack them between centre ice and his own blue line to force the opposition into making a quick decision. When Truscott attacks with this defensive move, he often forces a loose puck and is quick to make a pass to his defence partner to shut down the opposition’s attack.

He kept it simple in his freshman season because he wanted to earn the respect of his coaches and teammates. Truscott knew that there were some very offensively-gifted forwards on his team and though he was more of an offensive defenceman in the past, he adjusted his game for his new role with the Wolverines.

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“My main focus coming into the year was just to work on my defensive game,” said Truscott. “I wanted to be able to defend against the older and stronger guys. We had a great defence core, so I had to find my role within the team and I thought it turned out great. I was able to work on my game and just focus on that. My penalty killing was a great focus for me and hopefully next year I can fill in a bigger role and have that defensive role in the game.”

While many are beginning their offseasons with family time and vacationing at lake houses, Truscott stayed in Ann Arbor to live with two fellow NHL draft picks and train for next season.

Truscott was selected to participate in USA’s World Junior Summer Showcase and will compete alongside his U20 countrymen and hope to make a big enough impact to be strongly considered for the 2022 World Junior Championship. Playing at the World Juniors is always a huge honour for any hockey player and Truscott is looking forward to the opportunity to make the team.

“To put that USA jersey on would be amazing,” said Truscott. “It’s something I never take for granted, so, to be able to represent my country again would be an amazing feeling and something I’d definitely not take for granted. I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to represent them and win gold for our country. I’m willing to accept any role. I think I can play the right side and left side, wherever I’m put, I feel like I can excel and definitely show my skill and talent.”

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As for the communication with the Canucks organization, Truscott has had offseason conversations with both Chris Higgins and Ryan Johnson.

“We had some great talks,” said Truscott. “I was able to learn a lot from them and really focus on some key points going into next season and summer training.”

Truscott is prioritizing improving his skating during his offseason training. He knows that the NHL game requires an elite level of skating and his game can only improve with added skating skill. He also wants to add some size and strength to his game so that he can be more physical next season.

Finally, Truscott was excited about the relocation of the AHL team to Abbotsford.

“I think it’s great,” said Truscott. “I was really excited when I saw that. I told my family and everything. To live around Vancouver and be around Canucks fans would be great. I think it’s a great spot for the AHL team.”

He will continue to train in Ann Arbor this offseason but will take a break in late July to go and compete at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth Township, Michigan. Sweden and Finland will be sending U20 teams to go along with the USA’s split squads.

We will have the tournament covered here at CanucksArmy and will continue to keep tabs on Truscott’s development at Michigan over the next few years.