Following in his brother’s footsteps, Chaminade freshman Brady Tkachuk will be leaving home to further his hockey ambitions.
The son of former NHL standout Keith Tkachuk and his wife, Chantal, Brady has been selected to the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program for the 2015-16 season. He joins nine others players recently named to compete as members of the U.S. National Under-17 Team.
“I’m very excited about this happening to me,” Brady said. “This is a new chapter in my life. It’s a great opportunity for me. I’m looking forward to getting up there and playing with my new brothers.”
Brady’s older brother Matthew, 17, left the family home in 2013 to participate in the program as well.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team, part of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, plays an intense schedule each year featuring international competition as well as United States Hockey League games where it challenges for the Clark Cup.
Brady, 15, attended a tryout for the program in March and admitted he had some nervous moments waiting to learn if he been accepted.
“I was wanting to go there so badly. It was a goal of mine to get into the program,” he said. “I had a meeting with them and they told me in person. It was great.”
The 6-foot, 170-pound forward knows what to do on the ice. He has accumulated 43 points (15-28) in 30 games for the St. Louis Blues midget minor program of the Tier I Elite Hockey League.
“It was great playing for the Blues,” said Brady, who did not play for the Chaminade hockey team. “I had a fun time. We played a lot of good teams across the country. I learned a lot and felt like I improved during the season.”
Getting better on the ice is what Tkachuk wants. He saw how much it helped Matthew.
“We stay in touch,” Brady said. “We talk every day. He’s one of my role models (and) he’s always giving me advice. He’s told me what to look forward to in the program.
“It helps a lot having him tell me what to expect. I’m not going up there not knowing anything.”
Among the things his brother told him to do is to “definitely get stronger.” The main reason for that is the competition.
“I’ll play against a lot of older guys,” Brady said. “They’re all strong. It’s hard to play against guys who are three or four years older than you.”
Matthew played as a member of the NTDP from 2013-15. He was a member of the U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team competing in the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Men’s World Championship in Switzerland.
Team USA won the tournament.
“I texted him right after the championship game,” Brady said. “Hopefully, we can win one, too, in a couple of years.”
Of course, his father, Keith, has been a huge influence on him as well. Keith played in the NHL for 19 years for four teams including the St. Louis Blues. He also starred in four Olympics for the United States. He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.
“I think one of my strengths is my hockey IQ,” Brady said. “I think I might have learned it from my dad. He gives me a lot of advice. He’s always there for me. He tells me to be able to compete hard and be a good teammate to others.”
Some other former Blues who have been helpful to Brady are Jamie Rivers and Jeff Brown.
“I look up to Jamie Rivers,” Brady said. “He’s really helped me. He’s one of our coaches. Jeff Brown has helped me, too.
“(Coach) Jordan Janes has helped me be the player I am today. He has been really helpful to me.”
Of course, it will be tough leaving home. That means more than just missing his mother’s cooking.
He is under no illusion that it will be easy to just pack up and go despite knowing it’s an opportunity he can’t pass on.
“I think it’s going to be tough,” Brady said. “I will miss my friends. I’m looking forward to a new chapter in my life. I think I will be able to grow as a person and as a hockey player.”
Until Brady leaves, he will be busy.
“I’ll be working out five times a week to get ready,” he said. “I want to be in my best possible shape when I leave.”