Friday, April 27, 2018

Ex Viper Tufto Not Your Average Freshman:

Here is an article on former Vernon Vipers forward Odeen Tufto.

Tufto played last season in the United States Hockey League with three different teams (Fargo, Tri-City & Sioux City) before joining Quinnipiac University this season. In 38 games this season with the Bobcats, Tufto collected (9-goals-32-assists-41-points).

Tufto played one season in Vernon (2015-16) before leaving the team over the summer to join the United States Hockey League (USHL) Fargo Force. In 57 games with the Vipers Tufto recorded (25-goals-40-assists-65-points).

Odeen Tufto's Player Profile:

This was in the New Haven Register Newspaper:

Quinnipiac’s Odeen Tufto not your average freshman

By Chip Malafronte

Thursday, March 8, 2018

HAMDEN — Odeen Tufto doesn’t have eyes in the back of his head. But replays of his no-look assist to Chase Priskie last Saturday, which served as the game-winning goal in Quinnipiac’s series-clinching victory at Yale, makes one wonder.

In the first period Tufto, Quinnipiac’s dynamic freshman winger, went for a puck along the boards behind Yale’s goal. With a Bulldog defender draped on his back, he sent a blind, back-handed pass around the stick of Yale’s goalie to Priskie, perfectly positioned in front, for a one-timer goal.

Teammates understand that if they’re open, Tufto will find them.

“You definitely have to be ready at all times with him,” Priskie said. “But it’s something we practice, having our stick ready and being in a shooting position. Tufto went back and understood where everyone was and how the play was developing. He’s such an elite passer that that puck was right on my tape.”

Quinnipiac (16-16-4), fresh off its sweep of Yale, plays in the best-of-3 ECAC Hockey quarterfinals this weekend at top-seeded Cornell (23-4-2), the nation’s No. 2 team. It marks the 13th straight season the Bobcats have reached the quarterfinals.

Tufto, a native of Chaska, Minnesota, has put himself in the running for national rookie of the year thanks to a highly-productive freshman campaign. On Thursday he was named one of three finalists for the ECAC’s top rookie award, along with Cornell goalie Matthew Galajda and Clarkson’s Jack Jacome.

He’s the nation’s top-scoring freshman with 41 points, comfortably ahead of Minnesota State’s Jake Jaremko (36 points) and Michigan State’s Mitchell Lewandowski (34 points). Only two players in the country have more assists than Tufto’s 32 — Northern Michigan junior Adam Rockwood (37) and Princeton junior Max Veronneau (35).

Tufto is on pace to surpass the freshman scoring total of Sam Anas, who won national rookie of the year honors for the 2013-14 season with 43 points. Quinnipiac hasn’t had a dominant scorer since losing Anas and Travis St. Denis to the pro game two years ago.

Tufto, who turned 21 in January, is thriving in that role.

“It’s phenomenal,” Priskie said. “Since losing Sam and Travis we haven’t quite recovered and found the right piece to move into that role. Odeen grasped it and ran with it. He’s awesome to work with. He really understands the concept of the game and is awesome the way he thinks. He thinks at such an elite level that it makes it easy to play with him. He’s always a step ahead of his opponents and puts teammates in really good position to make plays as well.”

The turning point for Tufto, a natural center, was being switched to wing in the third game of the season. Tanner MacMaster has centered the Bobcats’ top-scoring line all season. Senior Landon Smith was on the other side until being sidelined with an injury in January. Sophomore Nick Jermain has since slid into the right wing spot.

Offensive production has been consistent for Tufto, one of the top scorers in the British Columbia Hockey League and the United States Hockey Leagues. What’s pushed his game to another level is a commitment to defense.

“It’s not all about scoring points. That’s what gets you noticed,” Tufto said. “But coming in I wanted to work on my defensive game. I’ve struggled with it at times throughout the year, but lately I’ve been honed in on the details, getting pucks out and blocking shots and not having a lot of turnovers, trying to create turnovers. When you do that, it leads to more offense. I didn’t realize that right away when I first came in. I’ve been able to pick up on that. If our line is good defensively, it’s going to lead to more offense.”

Goals will be tough to come by against Cornell, the nation’s top defensive unit. The Big Red don’t score all that much themselves, but lead the country in fewest goals allowed (44), goals-against average (1.52) and shots on goal against (25.11). Galajda (1.49 GAA, .941 save percentage, eight shutouts) could ultimately be Tufto’s top competition for national rookie of the year.

“Getting traffic on their goal is going to be a key,” Tufto said. “Every shot will be important. Every shot has to have a purpose to it. They’re a good shot-blocking team. You don’t want shots being blocked leading to rushes the other way.”

Cornell swept the season series with Quinnipiac, winning 2-1 in Hamden on Nov. 3 and 1-0 in Ithaca, New York on Jan. 6. Andrew Shortridge started in goal both games for Quinnipiac, but freshman Keith Petruzzelli started both ends of the Yale series and is expected to get the nod for the opener tonight.

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