Sikura’s continued improvement at Dartmouth could lead to big green from NHL

By Richard Murray

Tyler Sikura - Dartmouth

Photo: Dartmouth forward Tyler Sikura (#16) has continued his rapid development in 2012-13 after a strong freshman season in 2011-12 (courtesy of Mark Washburn/Dartmouth Athletics)

After winning the Dartmouth Rookie of the Year award last season as a freshman, Tyler Sikura is tearing up college hockey, and is paving his way towards a career at the professional level.

Last season, Dartmouth suffered from a lot of injuries, which included losing Montreal Canadiens prospect Dustin Walsh for the majority of the season. The Big Green needed someone to step up on the offensive end, and it was the freshman Sikura that did so. He tallied 11 goals and 14 assists during his freshman campaign to earn the team Rookie of the Year award.

“With the amount of injuries we had last season and the way Tyler was playing he just earned a lot of ice time,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “He is a very crafty player with a lot of skill. He can shoot, has great vision, and with that he has earned his ice time.”

This season, Sikura has taken his game to the next level; he has already tallied 17 points in only 11 games. Sikura is on pace to more than double his scoring output from his freshman season.

“I’m more confident this season after getting my feet wet last year,” Sikura said. “Over the summer I worked really hard on some of the things I needed too, which has made my game a lot more successful.”

The 6'2” forward’s work ethic has certainly paid off. Sikura came back to Dartmouth much stronger this season, and it is showing in game.

“Tyler is much stronger than he was last year, so you can tell his off-season workouts have paid off,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “His work ethic is incredible, and he developed a lot in the off-season. I love the way he played last season, but this year he is an even stronger version of himself.”

With his size advantage and his creativity with the puck, Sikura has a skill set that few bigger players can use. He has the ability to play a skill game, but Sikura can also play a role as a power forward who can use his strength to drive to the goal.

“Trying to play to my size with some skill is something I have tried to work on a lot,” Sikura said. “I was a pretty skinny guy before and kind of one dimensional in junior. I have worked on battling along the boards especially when going against some of the bigger guys. It has added another element to my game that I can play a power forward-type role but also keep my skill level high.”

Sikura was passed up in the OHL draft, but he did attend some OHL camps before he decided he wanted to go the NCAA route. A big factor in choosing college was the education he would get.

“The education part of college was a very important factor for me to go the NCAA route,” Sikura said. “I was also a little bit of a late bloomer and I didn’t get drafted into the OHL, so I had my sites set on college hockey. I did go to Kitchener Rangers camp when 17, but at that point the NCAA was what I wanted to do.

Sikura is committed to helping the Big Green win a National Championship, and he also plans to attend Dartmouth for his four seasons of eligibility. With the way he has come on this season, though, Sikura may have to figure what he wants to do soon because the NHL might be calling if he keeps up his play.

“I plan on staying in school for all four seasons, but I wouldn’t shut anything down [if an NHL team offered me something this summer],” Sikura said. “I will cross that bridge when it comes, but as of right now I am just focusing on helping my team win.”

Gaudet is also starting to notice how Sikura appears to be nearing the professional level even as a sophomore.

“He is [on the right track] developing for the professional level whenever that may come,” Gaudet said. “His skating has really come along with his strength. He is always going to be able to shoot the puck and he is very deceptive. Tyler is just so focused on developing and improving his game I know he will be ready.”

If Sikura continues to produce like he has so far this season, he could have multiple NHL teams knocking on his door come the spring.

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