The season is only eight games old but second-year player Tyler Liukkonen has already surpassed his rookie campaign totals.
Now fully immersed into his sophomore season, not only has the Varsity Blues forward been bumped up to the first line, but he was also named male Athlete of the Week for the period ending Oct. 28 when he tallied four points in two games.
“It’s great to be recognized but I can’t just take credit for that,” said Liukkonen. “It was a whole team effort and it just shows the success that our team has had so far.”
And there have been plenty of things to celebrate in this young season for Toronto’s men’s hockey team.
They began 2012-2013 undefeated through six games, and crept into the CIS Top 10 rankings for the first time since March 2004.
A big part of the team’s early success comes from Liukkonen and his linemates, Jeff Brown and Blake Bobby.
That line is 1-2-3 on the Varsity Blues in scoring, and the three of them all bring something different to the rink.
“You have a guy that can put the puck in the net in Jeff Brown, and he’s got a real good stick. You have Blake Bobby who’s got great vision on the ice and he can get the puck to the other two guys.
“And Tyler Liukkonen is a real strong guy that handles the puck along the boards well,” said Toronto head coach Darren Lowe.
“It’s a real good combination that compliments one another. I’m sure they’re going to draw a lot more attention as we go along the line here.”
In the team’s first loss of the season against Windsor on Friday, 5-3, Lowe complained about the team not playing a full 60 minutes, but the veteran coach believed the B-B-L line was not a part of that group.
“The line of Blake Bobby, Jeff Brown, and Tyler Liukkonen had a really strong game. They had a lot of good chances to score. I think those guys showed up,” said the Varsity Blues head coach of 17 years.
What’s really made the difference to the combination of Bobby and Liukkonen has been the addition of Brown, an ex-Windsor Spitfire, prior the Blues’ season-opening game.
“We just thought that if we added one piece to that group they’d be a real force to reckon with,” said Lowe.
Toronto’s head coach couldn’t have made a better choice.
“Blake and I played together last year and we had really good chemistry. I learned a lot playing with him. This year with Browner, an ex-OHL player, he does some things out there that other players can’t,” said Liukkonen.
“Just a real great addition to our line and so far this year we‘ve done pretty well.”
Pretty well is being modest but what makes the trio even more talented is their commitment to team play.
“The team’s the number one thing. Personal stats are irrelevant if at the end of the day you win,” said Liukkonen.
If they continue to play as well as they have, Liukkonen and his teammates may get to have a little bit of both.