ROCKFORD, Ill. — Dylan Sikura hasn’t played in an NHL game since Jan. 15, but he’s hoping to change that.
He’s averaging more than a point per game with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 10 games, including a current career-high seven-game point streak since he was reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. While the points have come, it’s Sikura’s overall game that’s stood out to Rockford coach Derek King.
“He’s working without the puck and that’s one of things he has to continue to work on,” King said Monday prior to the team’s two-game set against the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday and Thursday in Winnipeg. “(Any time) turnovers and stuff like that goes on you know he’s coming back hard, he’s been tracking hard. He’s been going to those dirty areas better. He can always improve. Everyone can in that (area).
“The big thing with him too now is he’s not forcing plays. He’s putting pucks to the net.”
So that's why coach always said to stop in front of the net! pic.twitter.com/U8OZ0pLts7— Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) February 2, 2020
In previous AHL assignments, King said Sikura focused too much on needing to put up points in order to get recalled to the Blackhawks. Sikura, who has 25 shots on goal in his past 10 games, still thinks that’s a path to get called up, but he realizes there’s more to it than that.
“It’s obviously not the biggest part of it, but I think in this day and age you have to produce,” Sikura said. “It doesn’t really matter what kind of player you are. You’re going to have to produce at this level to make the jump to the next level. It’s just the way it is.
“I think, for me, being an offensive guy this is a good chance for me to get my confidence up and try to put up points and numbers. ... hopefully at the next level I can be a guy that can do the same thing up there as I can down here.”
Sikura, who scored his first career NHL goal Jan. 5 against Detroit in his 44th NHL game, said part of his point streak has been the result of a success power play and playing with his older brother, Tyler Sikura, and John Quenneville, who lives with the Sikura brothers. Dylan has assisted on three of Quenneville’s four goals in the past five games.
“We’ve been scoring more goals and getting to the net, getting chances,” the younger Sikura said. “It’s nice to get chemistry with your linemates and be feeling the puck and getting chances every night and getting the bounces right now.”
Dyl Pickle doing Dyl Pickle things pic.twitter.com/drn79p72Yh— Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) February 5, 2020
Sikura and Quenneville have each played nine NHL games this season, and would likely be the top choices for a call up if there’s an injury. Sikura said there’s no frustration for him or Quenneville on being sent down after Blackhawks players get healthy and they’re not able up lock up a NHL roster spot.
“That’s just the way hockey goes sometimes,” Sikura said. “Sometimes there’s injuries and sometimes there’s not. It’s all about opportunity and getting your chance and being ready for when that time comes.
“I think guys like me and Q have been fortunate enough to get the call a couple times in our careers so far. Obviously, we can’t take those for granted, but we have to just keep working and hopefully one day stick up there for good.”