Just over a year ago, University of Connecticut sophomore forward Ryan Tverberg was a Harvard University Crimson commit prepping to play for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the BCHL. A series of COVID-19 related events resulted in the BCHL not playing games. The next option was enrolling early at Harvard. This fell through too due to the Ivy League canceling all sports last season. Wanting to get minutes and playing time, Tverberg sought out a different option: flipping his commitment to UConn and enrolling for the spring semester.
“When [UConn] told me I could play, the chance to just play hockey was the most important and to get in games,” Tverberg said on the decision.
At this point in his career, Tverberg wasn’t much of a household name. He had recently been drafted in the seventh round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft to his hometown Maple Leafs, but even the SB Nation site covering the team couldn’t find much on the Ontario native.
Coach Mike Cavanaugh wasn’t too familiar with Tverberg either. “I didn’t know much about him. Joe [Pereira] had seen him play live,” Cavanaugh said. “The only thing I saw was him, on video, playing a couple games in the BCHL.”
“We thought we needed more depth at forward last year and just with his skating alone, we thought that he’d fit in and be able to be a fourth line player if we needed it,” Cavanaugh added.
Tverberg provided an immediate boost for the Huskies, notching seven points in 14 games. This year, the sophomore has emerged as one of the best players for the Huskies. In the same sample size as last season, Tverberg has collected an impressive 16 points.
“I had no idea he was gonna be this dynamic offensively,” Cavanaugh mentioned. “It says a lot about his development as a player here over the last year and we’re really excited and proud of him. I’m pushing. I really hope he makes the team.”
Despite his success this year, Tverberg was not expecting to get the call from Team Canada to be a part of their 35-man selection camp. When asked whether he would’ve thought last year if he would be in this position, invited to the World Juniors’ camp, Tverberg bluntly responded with a laugh, “Absolutely not, but here we are.”
“We’re thrilled. It’s such an honor since there’s only three college kids that were selected into that camp,” Cavanaugh said. “I hope he makes the team, because it might be the first year I root for Canada.”
“I think what makes him so attractive to Hockey Canada is that he’s skilled and fast enough to play on your top two lines if you need him, but he’s also tough enough and fast enough to play on your bottom two lines if you need him,” Cavanaugh noted. “He’s proven that he can kill penalties. So he’s a very attractive player that is versatile, too.”
“Obviously it’s a big opportunity and I’m ecstatic,” Tverberg noted. “To go to Canada’s camp, it’s great. They’ve just got a winning tradition, a tradition of being the best, so it’s a great opportunity. I’m just trying to do my thing, play hockey, and get better every day and if something like this happens, it’s just amazing.”
The other two players selected from the collegiate level to the camp were University of Michigan’s Owen Power and Kent Johnson, with both Wolverines selected with the first five picks in the 2021 NHL Draft. “It feels great [to be recognized as a top college player],” Tverberg said. [Power and Johnson] are definitely great hockey players.”
If Tverberg makes the team at the camp this weekend, he will play in the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, beginning on Dec. 26 and going through Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.