Developing Story: Tyler Sikura
In Developing Story, a regular feature on collegehockeyinc.com, we highlight current college hockey players who have developed their skills during their careers – either on the ice or off – and in turn made a bigger impact on their team’s success.
Tyler Sikura turned in an impressive freshman season for Dartmouth last year, sharing the team lead in scoring.
On- and off-ice development have allowed Sikura to further elevate his game as a sophomore, to the extent that he has matched last season’s point total before the calendar has even turned to February.
The 20-year-old Aurora, Ontario, native centers the Big Green’s top line, and will be in the spotlight Friday night as Dartmouth visits Union on NBC Sports Network. What’s made him so dangerous is his combination of skill and hard work.
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“He’s an incredibly hard-working kid,” head coach Bob Gaudet raves. “He’s diligent about it. He comes to practice every day and works to get better. He comes to the rink every day with a smile on his face.”
Sikura has only been held off the scoresheet twice through 20 games, and his 1.25 points per game rank tied for 13th nationally. He leads ECAC Hockey players in conference games in assists (11), shorthanded goals (2) and faceoffs won (158).
The chance to practice four or five times per week is certainly paying off for Sikura, plus off-ice opportunities for strength and conditioning work. Undrafted in the NHL, he has developed into a viable pro prospect thanks in part to improvements in his skating.
“He’s a big guy (6-2, 170 pounds), so he has always been able to get from A to B,” Gaudet said. “He’s getting quicker now through strength training and the work he has put in off the ice. The pace that we practice with has helped him as well.”
Skills over systems
Lee Stempniak – the Calgary Flames forward and Dartmouth grad – talks about how Gaudet’s practices emphasized skill development over systems, and how that helped him reach the NHL. The same approach is certainly working for Sikura.
“Our systems are more principles, and it’s more about having the skill you need to execute them,” Gaudet said. “We try not to smother guys. Especially a kid like Tyler, who is real crafty with the puck and also very diligent on both ends of the ice.”
Coaches like Gaudet would love to have a dozen Sikuras to send over the boards. In a year he’ll at least have two, as Dylan Sikura – now with the Aurora Tigers in the OJHL – will join his brother in Hanover.
A promising player himself, Dylan has gotten an up-close look at the development possibilities that have helped his brother become one of ECAC Hockey’s best players.