Defensemen Expected to be Offensive

By October 2, 2014Features

Bowling Green’s defense will have a new look this season.

The Falcons are becoming a more mobile, more offensive-minded group.

Last season, Falcon defensemen accounted for just 10 of the team’s 119 goals and 55 of its 197 assists.

The BG defense also wasn’t a consistent threat to join the rush. When defensemen join the rush, it creates an extra scoring option on the play and is more difficult for the opponents to defend.

“We want to make plays from the back end, really transition well and have our D (defensemen) involved in the offense,” said Falcon coach Chris Bergeron, who is in his fifth season.

The Falcons also are expecting their defense to make crisper and faster plays coming out of their defensive zone.

“If you were to look at our team the last four years, we haven’t had much involvement offensively from our D corps (defense),” Bergeron said.

The Falcons figure to have more offense coming their defense corps, starting with Saturday’s exhibition against Simon Fraser at noon in the Ice Arena.

Sean Walker is expected to be a "top four" defenseman this season.

Sean Walker is expected to be a “top four” defenseman this season.

BG’s expected top four defensemen — junior Dajon Mingo, sophomore Sean Walker, and freshmen Mark Friedman and Nolan Valleau — all have good offensive skills.

Mingo, an excellent skater, split time between forward and defense last season, but is a full-time defenseman this season.

Valleau is a former Ohio State recruit who transferred to BG last fall. He practiced with the team during the spring semester last season.

“We just wanted it to be more of a mix because of the game we want to play,” Bergeron said. “We want to play that transition game. We want to go north. We want to smother people defensively.

“We think when you’ve got mobile guys back there, it just makes it easier.“

The Falcons lost defenseman Ralfs Freibergs, their best offensive threat. He had three goals and 19 assists last season, but elected to skip his final two seasons at BG to sign with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets.

“(Five on 5), our offense from our defense wasn’t enough,” Bergeron said. “Everyone’s trying to create offense 5 on 5, everyone’s trying to score more 5 on 5. We thought that was a glaring area for us.”

Bergeron said the BG coaching staff has been aiming for a more mobile defense since watching Ferris State win the Central Collegiate Hockey Association championship and advance to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2012.

“Their mobile defense was a real key to their success,” Bergeron said.

Despite having a more mobile, more offensive defense, Bergeron said the defense corps would still play solid defense and have a physical presence.

“What we won’t do is sacrifice guys defending,” Bergeron said. “They’re more mobile, more offensive (defensemen), but they can still defend.”

Bergeron also likes like his team’s depth on defense.

Seniors Rusty Hafner, Connor Kucera and Mike Sullivan, and junior Jose Delgadillo also return.

The defense is completed by freshmen Braden Pears and Austin Carroll.

“I don’t know if you’ll ever have enough depth, but we have more depth on defense,” Bergeron said.

Senior Mike Sullivan hopes to lead a veteran group primed to make a bigger impact this season.

Senior Mike Sullivan hopes to lead a veteran group primed to make a bigger impact this season.

Hafner, Kucera, Sullivan and Delgadillo are coming off inconsistent seasons and were healthy scratches at times last season.

In most games, teams dress only six defensemen.

“We have guys on the back end who have played a bunch, and they’ll be on the outside looking in. That, to me, is depth,” Bergeron said. “We have returning individuals who need to step up and play better than they played last year and get back to the form they’ve shown us over their time here. They all know that.

“We have a nice corps there. There are some guys who have proven they can play at this level who need to get their game at a senior-type level or a junior-type level.”

Kevin Gordon

About Kevin Gordon

Kevin joined BGSUHockey.com after wrapping up a 27-year run as the Falcon hockey beat writer for the Sentinel-Tribune. After providing another two years of the Falcon hockey coverage fans had grown to love over the past three decades, Kevin decided to hang up his notebook and is now enjoying the retired life. Please join us by sending Kevin a tweet and thank him for all the time he’s dedicated to BGSU hockey: @KGordonBG.

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