Former T-Bird Alexander True making his mark in the pros
SAN JOSE, California – It’s a Friday night at the SAP Center and former Thunderbird Alexander True is up to his old tricks.
The Danish center is all over the rink, playing defense, killing penalties, and giving his club big minutes as the San Jose Barracuda defeat the Texas Stars. He’s in a different league and wearing a different sweater but True still checks up on his former mates back in Seattle.
“I’ve got the notifications on my phone popping up, every time they score,” True said about the Thunderbirds. “It’s weird to not be there for sure, but I like it here as well.”
When Seattle’s season ended last spring, True’s future was bit up in the air. He was a free agent but still had one year of junior eligibility. As a 20-year-old and an import there likely would not have been room for him on the Thunderbirds roster this season, as much as they would have loved to have him back.
He was invited to summer camp by the San Jose Sharks and played well enough to earn a contract with the Sharks’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Barracuda.
“They invited me to camp and I honestly hoped that they would offer me something,” he said. “I just came in with a positive attitude and do my best in camp. It’s been unreal so far. Different life style from junior and it took some time to adjust living by yourself and not living with your billets. But I like it, it’s nice.”
The transition from junior to pro hockey can be a big one.
True seems to not only be adjusting to living on his own for the first time, but he’s getting a feel for the game, the pace of play, and having to play with bigger and stronger opponents.
“Really important to take responsibility with your own play,” he said of the transition. “Everyone is so good that you need to rely on each other, all the guys. Just be responsible.”
In the first 26 games with San Jose, the 6-foot-5 center has potted five goals and racked up nine points. He’s getting a lot of ice time and as he did in Seattle, killing penalties. Friday night against Texas he was pivotal in killing off a five-minute major penalty in the first period.
With his size and versatility, its no wonder that the Sharks and Barracuda were interested.
True was one of six key Thunderbirds who graduated to the pro ranks this year. Five of those guys are also in the AHL, which means that he has come across his former mates on occasion. The game against Texas featured him shooting on former Seattle goalie Landon Bow. The Barracuda also play in the same division as Bakersfield, where Ethan Bear plays.
“It’s weird for sure,” he said of playing against Bear and others. “Skating around in warm ups, looking at each other, smiling at each other. Maybe talking a little bit of (trash), but it’s fun. It’s fun to see familiar faces around the league.”
When asked about his time in Seattle, True says he is grateful and that the skills he learned from Steve Konowalchuk and the coaching staff have prepared him well for the pro game.
He also maintains contact with his former teammates, both in the pros and still in Seattle.
“We basically lived together for three years,” he said. “We were such a tight family, the group of guys that were in Seattle, we still talk. They were a big part of my life, we’re a big part of each other’s lives.”
True’s pro career is just beginning and with his skill set, an NHL run is certainly a possibility. As he progresses through his career, he will still always be remembered for one goal that he scored as a Thunderbird.
It was his overtime goal in Game 6 of the WHL Finals last year that sent the Thunderbirds to their first championship in franchise history. His name will always be cemented in Seattle hockey lore, no matter how big of a professional career he ends up having.
That goal, and that team, are also special to True.
“It always brings a big smile to my face when I think about that,” True says of the goal. “It’s just an amazing year, that year. All my three years were amazing, and it was incredible to end it that way. Every time I think back, I just get really happy.”