BUFFALO – Sabres winger Alex Tuch is almost six years older than his brother, Luke, so they’ve never had an opportunity to play together on the same hockey team.
That, however, is about to change.
Tuch, 26, said Saturday that he and his brother will be representing Team USA at the World Championship in Latvia. The tournament opens May 12 in Finland and Latvia.
“I’m really proud to say this is the first time my brother and I are going to play on the same hockey team together,” Tuch said as the Sabres held end-of-season meetings in KeyBank Center. “… We’re very close, but who knows if we’ll ever be able to do it again? So the opportunity presented itself and I had to jump at it, honestly.”
Tuch, who grew up in Baldwinsville, last represented Team USA at the 2015 World Junior Championship.
“To wear the USA logo is always something that’s been really special to me in the past,” he said.
Luke Tuch, who’s also a winger, compiled nine goals and 20 points in 40 games during junior season at Boston University.
Alex Tuch, meanwhile, enjoyed a career-best season, scoring 36 goals and 79 points in 74 games. He revealed Saturday that the lower-body injury he suffered Feb. 24 blocking a shot against the Florida Panthers was supposed to sideline him four to six weeks.
Tuch returned in just 16 days and missed eight games.
“I’m a faster healer, you could say,” he said.
Tuch scored two goals in his return March 13, helping the Sabres beat the Maple Leafs 4-3 in Toronto. But having come back so early, he mostly played on adrenaline. He scored just two goals over the next eight games.
After he had fully healed, he found a groove, registering four goals and 10 points in the final 10 games.
Tuch’s return boosted the Sabres, who stayed in playoff contention until Tuesday, the 80th game. They compiled a 2-5-1 record during his absence and a 10-5-2 mark with him down the stretch.
“Took a little bit of risk, but I thought the reward was a lot greater,” Tuch said of coming back so early. I just wanted to push and try to help our team as much as possible in our run to the playoffs, because I thought we were still in a position where we could make some waves. So that was something I tried to come back from as quickly as possible.”
Some other World Championship updates are below.
– Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who battled injuries late in the season, said he wants to spend the time recovering and preparing for next season. He represented Team Sweden last year.
– Winger Jeff Skinner said Team Canada has asked him to play but he wants to talk to his family and agent before he makes a decision.
– Winger Zemgus Girgensons, who’s Latvian, said some bumps and bruises will prevent him from playing.
“I definitely would love to play at home, but health is a priority,” he said.
Update: Goalie Devon Levi and winger Jack Quinn, two rookies, said today they’ll be representing Canada in the World Championship. Defenseman Owen Power, another rookie, said he’s deciding if he’ll play for Canada.
Center Dylan Cozens said he turned down Canada’s invitation so he can recover from the season and spend time with his family.
Meanwhile, rookie winger JJ Peterka said he’ll be playing for Team Germany.