In his final hour in yellow and black, Colorado College senior Trey Bradley has become a human highlight reel.
“If there’s one year to do it, I guess it’s senior year,” Bradley said.
“I’m not used to being the goal-scorer, but I’ll take the goals, they’re nice.”
His stat lines from midget through his junior year of college, by and large, read similarly — two, maybe three times more assists than goals. He was pass-first, a puck-mover. Happy to help.
Bradley was fine playing second fiddle to his linemates as long as it was working, and it was. Nick Halloran and Mason Bergh scored 19 and 18 goals last season and were an all-National Collegiate Hockey Conference first -team pick and honorable mention, respectively. Both were Hobey Baker nominees.
“They were hot last year. I kind of got away from trying to score a lot,” Bradley said. He said he has a phone full of texts from his father Brian, a 13-year NHL center, and former coaches, encouraging him to go for it.
“‘Shoot the puck, why aren’t you shooting the puck?’” Bradley recalled the texts saying. “‘You’ve got a good shot, use it.’”
There was also some advice from a little closer to home — Halloran and Bergh.
“They kind of told me, don’t forget you’re still just as good of a player,” Bradley said. “They just told me to keep working hard every day … and keep your head down. That’s the thing I’ve been trying to do this season.”
The most feared returning line in the conference never found its footing in 2018-19 and was split up. Then Halloran was lost to injury midway through the season.
Someone needed to step up. Last year’s best supporting actor graduated to a starring role.
Bradley has been CC’s most consistent forward, scoring eight times in his past 13 games and building on a career-high 11 goals, many of which have warranted a double-take. His moves made the NCHC Top 5 Plays of the Week four weeks in a row.
“He’s been our dominant player for the past couple weekends now,” Bergh said. “I think everyone in this room knew he had the capability to do that.”
He also earned a Hobey Baker nomination of his own. Both Tigers could use some help, as Bradley stands at 0.2 percent of the voting, behind teammate Westin Michaud’s 0.6. Bergh is doing his part, but “not playing favorites” between the two seniors.
Coach Mike Haviland is thankful Bradley has channeled the coordination that makes him a good golfer and a drill standout.
“He’s had a great career here, but I think now he’s stepped to another level,” Haviland said.
There’s still time for generosity. Last Friday against Minnesota-Duluth, he came across the blue line and threaded a pass through several pairs of skates to Troy Conzo at the side of the net for a goal. The former noted puck distributor has three assists in his past 13 games, all of which have come in the past three.
His line with Conzo — they are two of the lightest listed players on the roster — and Chris Wilkie has 12 points through four games.
“The biggest part is his hockey sense,” Conzo said. “He knows where to go. He knows where to move it, where the open ice is.”
The Tigers (11-13-3, 5-8-2 NCHC) will need Bradley to connect any way he can come up with against top-ranked St. Cloud State this weekend, where they’ll be gunning for a major upset for a second straight weekend.
“I’m trying to get it in their head — they put on their jerseys and their gear the same way,” Haviland said. “We have to prepare the same way no matter who we play.”