A new-look blueline club: College hockey teams seeking small, shifty defensemen


“Whether or not they’re 5-foot-7 defensemen or they’re 6-foot-5 defensemen, you simply need to have these guys,” stated Montgomery, whose fourth-ranked Pioneers host No. 9 Minnesota Duluth at eight:05 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, and Saturday, Feb. three, at Magness Area in Denver. “The faster you’ll be able to escape, the much less time you spend in your personal finish, the additional the puck is away from the web, the higher defensive staff you’re.”

Of the forty one defensemen Montgomery has coached at Denver, 25 have are available at beneath 6 ft. And whereas the typical peak of his defensemen has grown by greater than 2 inches — from 5-10.5 to six-zero.sixty seven — since taking up this system in 2013 from George Gwozdecky, Montgomery nonetheless leans on the little guys on the blue line.

This yr’s Pioneers defensive corp is led by 5-9 senior alternate captain Adam Plant (2 objectives, 2 assists, plus-7) and 5-eleven freshman Ian Mitchell (2-19, plus-10), who was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks within the second spherical of the 2017 NHL draft.

Different notable Denver defensemen from the previous who did not hit the 6-foot mark embrace Nolan Zajac, Joey LaLeggia and Will Butcher, who all rang in at 5-foot-10. LaLeggia was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as a senior in 2014-15, and Butcher gained the Hobey a yr in the past.

“I simply assume you need to discover hockey gamers that may transfer the puck,” Montgomery stated. “An important factor is to have defensemen that may break the puck out, whether or not they can do it by themselves or discover teammates in open area and shortly.”

As soon as an outlier, Denver is not the one faculty on the market chasing after smaller, faster puck-shifting defensemen. It is occurring in any respect ranges, even the NHL.

The identical goes for UMD this season, the place the typical peak of Scott Sandelin’s defensemen has dropped by greater than an inch from final season from 6-1.fifty six to six-zero.36.

Three of the 5 defenseman UMD misplaced from final yr’s squad have been 6 ft or taller, together with 6-four Carson Soucy and 6-6 Brenden Kotyk. They have been changed by 5 freshmen, with three failing to hit 6 ft. Matt Anderson is 5-eleven whereas Scott Perunovich and Louie Roehl are 5-10.

Perunovich, the Hibbing native and rising prospect for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, has been the standout of the group. Montgomery stated Sandelin was right to match Perunovich to his former defenseman, LaLeggia, due to the escapability, skating and separation Perunovich creates and snap shot he possess.

Perunovich leads all NCHC defensemen in scoring and ranks fourth nationally with six objectives and…



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