Season Recap: Calvin ThurkaufJul 13, 2020
Calvin Thurkauf knew heading into his third season with the Cleveland Monsters that he needed to be at the top of his game. After injuries limited him to only 26 games appearances during the 2018-19 campaign, the forward took last summer to regroup and retrain all his focus on how to succeed.
“I sat down and wrote down what my goals were. I wanted to show what I could do because last year I was not able to play much,” said Thurkauf. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could play at this level and take the next step upwards [towards the NHL].”
The Zug, Switzerland, native saw the immediate results of this approach when he scored the first goal of the Monsters’ 2019-20 season in Laval against the Rocket. Thurkauf’s contributions to the Monsters’ offense continued with a personal best three-point performance on October 25 against the Rockford IceHogs.
As injuries and recalls to the team’s NHL affiliate, the Columbus Blue Jackets, impacted the roster in Cleveland, the Monsters adopted a “next man up” mentality. Thurkauf fully leaned into the mindset producing his best offensive month of the season in January with nine points (3G, 6A). Additionally, the forward tied a personal best three-game point streak during the month and started February with a two-game goal streak.
In order to completely understand the “next man up” mentality, Thurkauf relied on the leadership of his teammates including Monsters co-Captains Zac Dalpe and Nathan Gerbe.
“They were great mentors coming to the rink every day, working hard and showing us young guys how it is done and how to be a professional,” said Thurkauf. “I think that helped me a lot, especially coming off an injury, to be mentally strong. I learned not to give up, put my head down and play to the best of my ability every game.”
As Thurkauf continued to produce in Cleveland, injuries mounted in Columbus creating an opportunity for the forward to realize his offseason goals. On February 20, Thurkauf earned his first NHL recall and made his debut on February 22 against the Nashville Predators.
A second monumental moment came for Thurkauf when he played his first Blue Jackets home game in Nationwide Arena on February 24 against the Ottawa Senators with his dad in attendance. Thurkauf’s first NHL action provided the young forward with a renewed energy heading into the summer.
“It was awesome to get rewarded with a call up and debut. It is every hockey player’s dream to play in the NHL,” said Thurkauf. “Now that I got a sniff at it with my three games and [learned] what it takes to play [at that level], I can work in the areas I need to improve. That will be the big goal for me next season - to make that step up as not just being a call up but [becoming] be a main part of a team.”