Photo by Rena Laverty
Alex Turcotte’s whirlwind last few weeks have, at times, been like any high school senior finishing up his classes. However, Turcotte’s also included competing at the NHL combine, leading up to the big moment he has been waiting for, going to the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver on Friday, June 21.
“I just want to be able to enjoy the time with my family and friends,” said Turcotte, who is currently ranked fourth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. “I just want to live in the moment. The combine was my last chance that I had to make an impression. I’m just happy to be in this position.”
Turcotte, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound forward, spent May 27-June 1 at the combine in Buffalo. He participated in medical exams, fitness testing and team interviews over the course of the week.
“It was fun and something I had never done before,” he said. “For me, to be able to go with my teammates and share in some of those experiences, it will be something I can never do again. It was special.
“The toughest part was getting the proper rest. The 13 [team] interviews I did were fun. The entire week was a challenge, but it was very interesting.”
It was definitely an eye-opening experience for Turcotte when it came to some of the fitness tests, which included the Wingate test, which measures aerobic capacity, and the VO2 max test, which measures oxygen consumption.
“The VO2 test I ended up staying on the bike for over 14 minutes,” said Turcotte. “I had never done that before. I also did well on the Wingate test too. You just don’t know what you can really do, until you get in the moment.”
Photo by Rena Laverty
Turcotte credits his two years with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program for his success.
“You work out all the time and that is a big part of the program,” he said. “They really prepared you for the tests [at the NHL combine]. You get stronger and you get in shape. You play against the best competition. You really get a good base during your Under-18 season and that really helps you at the NHL combine.”
In addition, Turcotte had two individuals who helped prepare him for his hockey career — his grandfather Real and his dad, Alfie. Real played four years at Michigan State University, while Alfie appeared in 117 NHL games.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“My grandpa played for the Spartans and runs hockey camps,” Turcotte said. “My dad played in the NHL, but he taught me about the game. He really helped me become the player that I am today.
“Off ice, my dad taught me about the process as he has been there. He knows the ins and outs, including what to do and what not to do. Not everyone has that advantage. I am able to ask him questions and run with it — the extra information helps.”
Turcotte leaves the NTDP having earned a medal in back-to-back IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He earned a silver in 2018 as an underage player and won a bronze in 2019 as Team USA bested Canada, 5-2, in the bronze medal game.
“Although it was not the medal that we wanted as we had worked so hard for two years for the gold, we were still able to keep the medal streak alive for USA Hockey,” said Turcotte, who tallied four goals and nine points in the tournament. “We still take a lot of pride in winning a medal.
“It was great to win our last game, especially with the guys who I have played with for the last two years. That was a good way to go out. Winning is always fun and we wanted to go out with a win in our final game.”
The Island Lake, Illinois, native will take with him many memories of his NTDP experience, but he was able to cite one thing stands out above the rest.
“Winning the U17 World Challenge [in November of 2017],” said Turcotte. “It was huge for our team. It was the first international tournament that we competed in and it is something I will remember for the rest of my life. That tournament really got our team closer and it really kicked off our two years with the program.”
Turcotte also had an opportunity to play against his future college team, Wisconsin, on Jan. 18. He tallied one goal and one assist in the 6-2 win.
“It was the first time that I had played at the Kohl Center and I will remember it for a long time,” he said. “It was cool to have my family there to watch me. It was pretty special, not only for me but for Cole [Caulfield] and Owen [Lindmark]. To win the game was the icing on the cake.
“Wisconsin felt like the right fit. The coaching staff made me feel comfortable and that was important to me. … You felt like you were part of the family.”
As Turcotte leaves his USA Hockey family, there are three things that he will carry with him from his NTDP experience.
“Looking back, I feel like I made the most out of an incredible opportunity. I left it all on the ice and I’m leaving with no regrets,” he said.
With all that hard work done, it’s just a waiting game to see who will draft him. Then more hard work awaits.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.