By @SKubus –
DETROIT – It was a long time coming, but Rochester native Jacob Trouba finally made his NHL Joe Louis Arena debut Saturday night.
The Compuware product and former University of Michigan Wolverines standout started the game and, just 2:36 into the game, saw his point shot get tipped home by teammate Chris Thorburn to give his Winnipeg Jets a 1-0 lead against the Detroit Red Wings franchise he grew up watching.
“A lot of good players have played in this building, that’s for sure, and there’s a lot of history here,” Trouba said. “It was cool to finally be able to play here because I missed it last year, but it was exciting to have some friends and family be able to watch, and it was a good game.”
The second-year rearguard said he had around 40 of said friends and family members in attendance for the Jets’ thrilling 5-4 shootout victory.
Trouba had previously played at Joe Louis Arena, both as a youth player in Michigan and during his one-year stint as a Wolverine, but said it was a bit more surreal to come back as an NHL player. His last trip to Joe Louis Arena came on March 24, 2013 when Michigan fell to Notre Dame in the final Central Collegiate Hockey Association Championship game.
“It was definitely cool,” Trouba said. “There’s definitely some memories here for me, so it was pretty exciting to get back here for the first time.”
Winnipeg’s ninth-overall pick in 2012 joined the team for the 2013-14 NHL season after one year at Michigan. He recorded 10 goals and 29 points in his 65-game rookie season. This season, Trouba said he has been more comfortable settling into his sophomore campaign.
“I think the first season was a kind of different with the coach getting fired and all that kind of stuff that happened, but this year has been a little more solid and consistent I think, so it’s been easier to play.”
Prior to joining the Jets, Trouba compiled a stellar year under Red Berenson with the Wolverines. He was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s best offensive defenseman after racking up 12 goals and 29 points in 37 games. That line was also good enough to capture CCHA All-Conference First Team honors and be named a finalist for Rookie of the Year.
As a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2010-12, Trouba took a big leap in his second year, amassing 18 points in 22 games after only posting seven points in 31 games the first year.
Trouba was also named the best defenseman in the 2013 World Junior Championship, a tournament in which the U.S. won the gold medal over Sweden in the finals.