A big congratulations to Spencer Asuchak as he has signed a tryout contract (PTO) with the NHL Boston Bruins. Can't say this is a surprise as the rumors were that almost every team in the AHL and several NHL teams had contacted him since his breakout year this past season with CHL champs, the Allen Americans. Big, fast, strong, determined, tireless worker and well liked, it is a wonder it took so long for his potential to be noticed. Everyone in Allen will be watching, cheering and hoping Spencer comes away from camp with an NHL contract but if for some reason that doesn't happen this year you can be assured he will get an AHL contract and he will be on his way. And like Jordie Benn, Allen fans will be able to say, "we knew him when" and everyone would agree it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Another feather in Steve Martinson's hat as his knack for finding young players off the radar screen that can thrive in his system is proven once again.
Not bad for a player that was not even a finalist for CHL Rookie of the Year (ROY). You may remember the rant I went on back in March when the finalists were announced for ROY and Spencer didn't make the list. Here it is. Spencer Asuchak clearly deserves to be a finalist for rookie of the
year. With Alex Lavoie the odds on favorite to win the award with more
points than any CHL rookie has scored since Allen joined the league in
2009, Asuchak was left off the list. Spencer is tied for third in rookie
scoring and leads the entire CHL in shorthanded goals. To go along with
his offensive skills he is a great two way player, finishes checks,
never takes a shift off, kills penalties and often plays against the
opposing teams top players. To top it off he has not missed a game all
year. Certainly he is deserving! COME ON MAN!
A NHL PTO is sweet revenge for sure!
The article below was written by Gregg Drinnan. Gregg writes a blog called "Taking Note" and can be found at gdrinnan.blogspot.com.
Spencer Asuchak had waited most of his 22-plus years on this earth for THE phone call.
It came last month, and now he’s preparing for a taste of the big time.
After being part of a Central Hockey League championship with the Allen
Americans, Asuchak, who is from Kamloops, has signed a PTO (professional
tryout agreement) with the Boston Bruins and will attend the NHL team’s rookie camp in September.
It all began with that phone call. On the other end of the line was Don Sweeney, the Bruins’ assistant general manager.
“It was about how well my season went and how they would like me to come
to camp,” Asuchak said. “As you could imagine, I was pretty emotional
after receiving a call like that.
“I have been waiting my entire life for an opportunity like this. I feel
like I’ve definitely earned it and am going to do absolutely whatever I
can to take full advantage of the chance I’m being given to prove
myself and earn a spot within the Bruins organization.”
In hockey circles, it often is said that the deeper a team gets into its
playoff season, the better chance its players have for advancement. The
theory is simply the opposite of out of sight, out of mind.
Asuchak played in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans and Prince George
Cougars (2008-12). Late in 2011-12, he got into three games with the
ECHL’s Ontario Reign, then chose to attend Mount Royal College in
Calgary for a year.
Through it all, he wasn’t able to rid himself of the itch to play
professionally, so he signed with the Americans, who play out of Allen,
The 6-foot-5, 232-pound Asuchak has always seen himself as a hockey
player. According to his agent, Darren Hermiston of Points West Sports
and Entertainment, that wasn’t always the way coaches saw him.
“Spencer is a hulking forward,” Hermiston said, “and, as sometimes
happens in junior hockey with players that size, he was pigeon-holed
into a specific role -- a north-south winger who needs to hit and fight
and not do much else. This role was not ideal for Spencer's skill set,
but no junior coach saw that.”
Hermiston, like Asuchak, is from Kamloops. One thing led to another and Hermiston now represents Asuchak.
“We were able to find him a situation with the Allen Americans where the
coach (Steve Martinson) loved Spencer's size and skating ability and
was willing to gave him a shot,” Hermiston said.
According to Hermiston, Martinson “realized what junior coaches didn't .
. . that Spencer and his great skating ability should be given an
opportunity at centre and in a different role than the one that hadn’t
worked out overly well for the better part of five years.”
Asuchak has always taken pride in his conditioning, so he showed up in
Allen ready to go. He did get off to a shaky start -- he had three
points and was minus-3 through nine games. But then he was moved to
centre and, yes, the move agreed with him. Not only did he begin to put
up points, but Martinson turned to him as his club’s shutdown centre.
“He played against the opposition’s top lines and was a first-line
penalty-killer,” Hermiston said, “and won 60 per cent of his faceoffs.”
While playing centre, Asuchak put up 53 points in 57 games and was
plus-6. He had 18 points over his final nine regular-season games. In
all, he had 56 points, 21 of them goals, in 66 games. He also led the
CHL with five shorthanded goals and twice was the league’s player of the
He added 11 points, four of them goals, as the Americans went on a 17-game run to the CHL title.
“Winning the championship in Allen was definitely the most fun I’ve ever
had,” Asuchak said. “So many amazing people and teammates were involved
. . . friends and memories I will never forget. Being able to hoist the
trophy over my head with a group of guys that you’d do absolutely
anything for was amazing and there is no better feeling.”
What made it that much sweeter was that it was Asuchak’s “first championship at any level.”
After giving it some thought, he allowed that “I do think I won a B.C.
roller hockey championship when I was about 14 playing for the Prince
George Reapers . . . if that counts.”
The exposure that Asuchak received in 2013-14, combined with his size
and skating ability, has paid off. The Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings
and Chicago Blackhawks have combined to win the last four NHL titles and
the foundation of each of those teams is its strength up the middle.
As Hermiston put it, “every NHL general manager now wants to be ‘big and
heavy down the middle.’ ” That is right up Asuchak’s alley.
“So after a few conversations with Don Sweeney, we were able to secure a
PTO for Spencer to attend the Bruins’ rookie camp in September with the
goal of earning an entry-level contract,” Hermiston said.
Asuchak, who never has been a stranger to off-ice conditioning, now is
working hard to get ready for camp, even if it is almost two months
away. Like many athletes in the Kamloops area, and as he has done in the
past, he is working with Greg Kozoris at Kozoris Acceleration.
If you’re looking for Asuchak, chances are that you’ll find him there.
He said his days comprise sprints at 7 a.m., soccer at 8 and then up to
three hours of weight training. He does that five or six days a week,
and also finds time to skate three or four times a week. On the ice, he
has been working with Aaron Konescni, a Kelowna-based power-skating
coach; Ron Johnson, a skills coach from Vancouver who works with various
NHLers; and former pro Ed Patterson, the head coach of the junior B
Kamloops Storm, who runs practice sessions.
Asuchak’s training group includes the likes of the Nash brothers,
Brendon and Riley, Shane Doan, the afore-mentioned Blair Riley, Peter
Mueller, Tyler Redenbach, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Devin Gannon, James
Friedel and Ryan Gropp.
“Our training group is pretty good . . . so the pace is very high and very competitive,” Asuchak said.
In past summers, Asuchak often would find time for the lake and a few golf games.
This summer is different.
“There’s not really much time for anything else,” he said.
DID YOU KNOW: Spencer Asuchak led the CHL in shorthanded goals last year with five. No other player had more than three. The five short handed goals is also the all time single season record for the Allen Americans.