Tufte taking advantage of new opportunities

Photo: Ashley Potts

by Nicole Boldrin | AHL On The Beat

Colorado Eagles forward Riley Tufte is evidence of the statement, “If you do the work, you will be rewarded.”

Tufte’s hockey resume is building at both the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League levels. In the young season, Tufte has tallied his first career hat trick and hit the scoresheet in his first eight contests since donning an Eagles sweater.

Moreover, Tufte has been called up for three games with the Colorado Avalanche.

Since being signed in free agency from the Dallas Stars organization, Tufte has found himself not only adjusting to a new role and team but also making the most of his opportunities. The Coon Rapids, Minn., native attributes his success this season to two aspects in particular.

“I think just hard work and the right mindset,” Tufte said. “I’m getting into a new role up here and trying to take advantage of that. I haven’t really been put in the top six role in the AHL and playing the power play, so I’m getting a lot of minutes here and taking advantage of that.”

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward takes pride in his game in the offensive zone and around the net. He puts his best effort forth to capitalize on opportunities, which is evident as Tufte is leading the Eagles in goals, assists and points, registering 17 points in his first 12 games.

“I’m a big power forward who likes to shoot the puck and really work down low,” the 25-year-old said. “I feel like my O-zone play and my down-low play is how I would describe my game. Then, just trying to work as hard as I can defensively to get to the O-zone. Just holding onto pucks, holding guys off, and making plays is what I like to do.”

Reaching career milestones is no easy feat, but Tufte sent hats flying with his first career hat trick in the AHL on Nov. 4, adding one more accomplishment to his hockey resume.

“It was awesome,” Tufte said with a smile from ear to ear. “Obviously, it was my first career hat trick, so it felt good. I’ve had a lot of times where I scored two goals but couldn’t get the third. It feels awesome, so I’m looking forward to more.”

Tufte has taken advantage of this time on the ice with the Eagles and as a result, was rewarded for his perseverance. Tufte’s first call-up with the Avalanche, his 14th career game in the big league, was an exciting opportunity he is looking to build upon.

“(Avalanche assistant general manager) Kevin McDonald walked me through how I was playing,” Tufte said. “Kevin said, ‘You’re going up.’ I think it was Wednesday we played, so I got to the rink the next day, drove up for practice, and was in the lineup. I was super happy to play for the Avalanche. I thought I played a really good game and I’m looking to build off that.”

Tufte’s recent hat trick and points accumulated with the Eagles, together with the recent Avalanche call-ups are strong indications that he will continue to be rewarded.