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After a Season Full of Hardware, Mac Swanson Adds the Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year Award to His Collection

By Bob Reinert, 05/31/24, 9:00AM MDT

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Swanson helped the Fargo Force win the Clark Cup and earned Playoff MVP honors in the process.

Mac Swanson’s trophy case is starting to overflow.

The 5-foot-7-inch, 170-pound forward from Anchorage, Alaska, earned USA Hockey’s 2024 Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year Award following his exceptional performance with the Fargo Force of the USHL this year. 

This come just weeks after the 18-year-old was named the 2024 USHL Player of the Year after accumulating 77 points on 26 goals and 51 assists in 55 regular season games for the Force.

Swanson became the first Fargo player to win USHL Player of the Year, andhe was also named the league’s Forward of the Year and to the All-USHL First Team. He led the Force to a 59-13-2 record and the USHL championship.

As Swanson pointed out, his father, Brian, was an All-USHL First Teamselection and a Clark Cup champion 30 years ago. Brian Swanson then went on to play in the NHL for the Edmonton Oilers and Atlanta Thrashers.

“Kind of something I won but he also won,” Mac said. “So, it’s kind of cool to share that moment. [The USA Hockey honor is] the first time I’ve kind of got something he doesn’t. It’s pretty funny to joke about once in a while.”

Swanson also impressed in the Team USA jersey in December, helping the Americans to a third-place finish at the World Junior A Challenge in Truro, Nova Scotia, with a tournament-record nine assists.

“In the [World Junior A] tournament, we didn’t get the gold medal, but I thought I had a really good time there and kind of followed up with the Clark Cup championship, which was obviously my main goal going into the season,” Swanson said. “It was definitely special.”

Brett Skinner, head coach of the Force and a former NHL player, lauded Swanson’s intelligence, vision and ability to find his teammates.

“Overall, he is a player that plays all situations and has a tremendous amount of hockey sense,” Skinner said. “He’s a quiet leader but [has] a lot of leadership qualities, very unselfish. He’s generally the guy that’s always putting in the extra work.”

Though he had scored 12 goals and tallied 43 assists for 55 points in 57 games in his first season with Fargo, Swanson continued to work hard. He spent a ton of time in the gym during the offseason and put on 20 pounds.

Skinner said that Swanson has made a habit of finding himself in the middle of big plays this season for Fargo.

“He’s always kind of in the mix,” Skinner said. “Probably one of the intangible strengths is the bigger the moment, it seems like, the more he’s ready to step up. 

“He’s been remarkably consistent all season. As much as he has raised his game here, his level of consistency throughout the whole season has been very impressive.”

Perhaps even more impressive was how Swanson raised his level of play as the Force entered USHL playoffs. He tallied 17 points in 12 playoff games, including two goals and three assists in the Clark Cup Final to earn Playoff MVP honors. 

Committed to the University of North Dakota, Skinner thinks Swanson’s game will one day translate to professional hockey. 

“With the knock on him being his size, the game has changed from 10-20 years ago,” Skinner said. “It’s probably a little bit easier for him to play at that size nowadays. Obviously, he’s got a long way to go to get to that level. But with his hockey sense being at such a high level and his ability to make those around him better, those are things that are really tough to teach. I just believe that his [hockey] sense will get him there.”

Skinner noted that as he adds to his frame, certain things will come organically to Swanson.

“As he continues to climb the ladder, rounding out his overall game, as he physically matures, he’ll just add to his skating and his top-end speed and change of direction. All those things that are normal for young kids,” Skinner said. “He’s got a lot of things that are going to be added to his game with time.”

Swanson thinks he’s quieted the critics with his play this year. He also noted that there are players like him currently having success in the NHL. 

“There’s a ton of players that have shown that it doesn’t matter how big you are or how tall you are,” Swanson said. “You can still be a really goodhockey player. That kind of drives me into kind of doing the things I did this year. I definitely proved a lot of people wrong.”

While Skinner will be cheering for Swanson as his hockey career continues, he’ll miss having him on the Force. 

“He loves being at the rink,” Skinner said. “If we have an optional skate, he still skates because he just likes being on the ice. 

“He’s fun because you can give him little tips and he finds a way to take that tip and generally almost instantly have success with it, which makes you feel really good as a coach. He’s certainly, for me, the type of kid that’s a coach’s dream.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc

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