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Wild prospect Tuch looks to build off strong freshman campaign at Boston College

By Jace Frederick

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Expectations surrounded Alex Tuch heading into his freshman season at Boston College, but he might have exceeded them all.

The Wild’s first round draft pick (No. 18 overall) in 2014, Tuch led the Eagles in scoring with 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 37 games during his first collegiate campaign.

“He’s a highly-rated prospect, and I expected that out of him,” said Notre Dame forward Mario Lucia, who played against Tuch in the Hockey East Association. “He got every opportunity there to succeed, and he obviously took advantage of it and did that. That’s great for him.”

Still, Tuch is far from satisfied with what he has achieved.

“I could have produced a lot more,” he said, “and I think I have another year of development ahead of me.”

Which is why Tuch said he didn’t have to think too hard about whether or not to return to Boston College.

“I think I have some unfinished business,” he said.

Tuch said Boston College (21-14-3), which finished ranked No. 11 in the country and fell in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Denver, underperformed.

“We should be a top-10 team, and I think losing to Denver hurt a little bit,” he said. “I think we could have done better, but overall I think I improved as a player, and I think our team has gotten a lot stronger since then.”

Tuch said his experience with Team USA in the 2014 World Junior Championships in Canada in December — where he netted one goal and added an assist in five games — helped him adapt to the speed of the college game.

He took off in the second half of the season at Boston College.

“I think my success just showed,” he said. “Playing at the higher level really picked my game up.”

Moving forward, Tuch hopes to improve his first three steps.

“Just that extra quickness,” he said. “Being a bigger guy, that’ll make me more effective.”

Size isn’t the issue for the Baldwinsville, N.Y., native. Listed at 6-foot-4, 221 pounds, Tuch “looks like a man already,” Lucia said.

That stature made Tuch an instant standout at the first day of the Wild’s Development Camp on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center. But so did his play.

“I feel like I’m one of the top guys out there,” he said. “I feel like I came in pretty strong, pretty confident. I think going forward I just have to prove myself even more and try to be the top guy out there.”

As he was when he was the second-leading scorer for the U.S. National Under-18 team in 2013-14, when he recorded 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 26 games.

And like he was at Boston College last season. New Wild signee and former Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly saw that firsthand when Tuch scored against Minnesota in a 6-2 Gophers win in November.

“He’s going to be a great player, and he still seems like he’s maturing,” Reilly said. “I’m pretty sure he’ll be here soon.”

But not until after at least one more season with the Eagles. First, the Eagles’ top forward, and one of the Wild’s top prospects, is set on returning Boston College back to the top of the college hockey universe.

“We really want a national championship, we want a Beanpot, we want to have a really good overall season,” Tuch said. “I think personally I want to lead my team again and be more effectively offensively, as well.”

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.