“I think maybe my freshman year, I would’ve shied away or got frustrated or something like that if things weren’t happening.”
That same development was evident at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, where Caufield served as an alternate captain for Team USA on the way to winning a gold medal. In seven games, Caufield tallied two goals and three assists.
For Granato, it was a pleasure to watch Caufield this season. Anything discussed last summer in regard to areas where Caufield needed to grow or improve, he went above and beyond with his commitment, according to Granato.
“His performance on the ice is one thing, but his ability to lead and his ability to help his teammates in tough times … he was sensational,” Granato said.
Wisconsin finished the season 20-10-1, seeing its season end with a 6-3 loss to Bemidji State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But Caufield recalls the final regular-season game, a 2-1 victory over Michigan State to capture the Big Ten regular-season championship. Down 1-0, Caufield scored a power-play goal in the final minute of the second period to tie it before adding the winner in the third.
“We came together as a group and really understood what we had to do, and I think that’s the biggest moment for me and our team is that we came back under the circumstances that we needed to, to do what we wanted,” Caufield said.
If there was ever a big moment, Caufield found a way to get the job done, Granato said.
“And that’s what he did all year,” Granato said. “And that’s why he’s having success in the NHL, because of the time, the work, the effort that he put in this year to be ready for that opportunity.”
While Caufield’s still riding the Stanley Cup Playoffs momentum with the Canadiens, he already had memorable moments in his professional career. He scored four points in two games in his first professional games in the AHL. The 2019 first-round (15th overall) pick of the Canadiens officially signed with the club March 29, 2021, making his NHL debut April 26.
His first two NHL goals were overtime-winners, scoring four goals and five points in 10 games. He made his playoff debut in Game 3 of the first round against Toronto. He’s always soaked up a lot of information and learned a lot in the playoffs.
“Every game’s not going to go your way,” Caufield said, the day before the Game 5 victory. “It’s a seven-game series. You’re never out until you’re out.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.