True Grit: Polglaze brings his physical style to Houghton to add to Huskies’ lineup

Photo courtesy of the Janesville Jets Jets winger T.J. Polglaze fights for space with a Minnesota Magicians defender during a game last season. Polglaze is one of 11 new faces joining the Huskies this fall.

HOUGHTON — With an interest in majoring in exercise science and physiology, and hoping to continue on to physical therapy school, T.J. Polglaze is one of 11 new Huskies to hit the ice this season. The forward from Beloit, Wisconsin looks to bring a strong presence to Michigan Tech hockey.

“I like to be that workhorse that brings solid energy,” said Polglaze, “(that) solid guy on and off the ice. They say I’m a high character guy that likes to lead by example, and I can’t wait to bring that to the Huskies this year.”

Polglaze hopes to bring a positive energy that will help carry the team to another postseason milestone.

“I’m just hoping to bring that good presence, (a) hard-working mentality to the team this year,” said Polglaze. “You know, just being a good guy on and off the ice, leading by example and hopefully win a national championship. We need to bring one back to Michigan Tech, for sure.”

The right-shooting winger spent three seasons with the North American Hockey League’s Janesville Jets, where he played last season for former Huskies’ assistant coach Gary Shuchuk. Polglaze scored 43 total points, a 31-point bump from his 2016-17 season, in his last year as a Jet, which should help prepare him for his college debut.

“I came in as an older guy and veteran player that had a lot of confidence coming into the year,” he said. “I was awarded assistant captain, so I led on and off the ice all year, and I think that made me (show an) improvement (in my) playing on the ice.”

The gritty character Polglaze has honed during his years spent in juniors could translate well when used on the ice of the Black and Gold this season.

“I think playing juniors really helped me mature as a player and as a human being,” he said. “I think, going into next year, I’ve just got to come in with that mindset of being on a mission to go and win that national championship and do whatever it takes for the team to win.”

With a new chapter in life comes a new set of goals to accomplish on the ice, and Polglaze has some big benchmarks he would like to hit over the next few seasons.

“Personally, just continuing to grow as a player,” said Polglaze when asked what his goals were. “This step into the NCAA is a huge (one), so continuing to grow and try to work my way into the lineup.

“(It’s about) never giving up (and) practicing every play. (I) just (have to) always be aggressive and work the hardest (I can) to make an impact for the team.”

The gritty, two-way game that Michigan Tech plays matched Polglaze’s, style drawing him to sign with the Huskies.

“We got the chance to watch Michigan Tech play at Wisconsin, and I could just tell that their style of gameplay and my style, the gritty two-way, focus on the details kind of game (fit) me,” said Polglaze. “I could really see myself playing here. It just so happened that a couple months down the road, I got a couple calls from the coaches saying that they liked how I played and who I was.”

Polglaze has tried to model his gameplay after a current Montreal Canadiens, and former Chicago Blackhawks, winger who plays a very similarly gritty game, Andrew Shaw. Interestingly, another former Blackhawks player also caught his attention.

“For me the players I look up to, (players like) Andrew Shaw or Ryan Hartman, are the gritty two-way (guys),” he said, “(They are) little, detailed players (and that is) definitely (why) I look up to them. The rest of my game (comes from) the coaches I’ve had in the past five years.”

Polglaze puts his best foot forward when approaching his game of hockey. For him, pushing through adversities has lead him to the NCAA platform.

“You have to give 110 percent every single day of your life, battling through the adversities has made me the player that I am today,” he said. “I’m not looking back for sure.

“I was able to commit to Michigan Tech and it was an easy decision. I mean it’s a top-class, top-notch school and the fan base is just incredible. There’s honestly nothing like it in college hockey. The overall atmosphere made it easy for me to commit to Michigan Tech. I couldn’t be happier to become a Husky.”

If fans need any other reasons to get behind Polglaze, the first initial of his name should remind them of a recent stellar Huskies forward: Tanner.