Friday’s edition of The Sun included an article on the top defenseman for five of the six teams participating in Saturday’s Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Four of the five aforementioned have been named All Americans and one was arguably compiling an equally worthy season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last year.
ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon sized up each of the five defensemen and their importance to their respective teams. Here is how he viewed them.
On Johns Hopkins junior Tucker Durkin: “Tucker Durkin, in my estimation, is the glue of the Hopkins defense. He’s tough, physical and just loves to beat you up. When you look at Durkin, he’s got some experience around him in [junior defenseman Chris] Lightner, [senior defenseman Gavin] Crisafulli who is playing more extensively this year.”
On Virginia redshirt senior Matt Lovejoy: “Matt Lovejoy is very important to that Virginia defense in terms of the senior leadership and running that zone defense. He’s assumed that quarterback role that Bray Malphrus had a year ago.”
On North Carolina senior Charlie McComas: “Charlie McComas is playing with a brand new defense. Ryan Flanagan is gone, and now he’s assumed that leadership role on the defense. Quite frankly, for North Carolina, that’s an Achilles heel of theirs. When they can’t win faceoffs and control possessions, they’re vulnerable to be scored on. So McComas is really that leader back there. They’ve got a nice leader up top with the long stick in [senior] Mark Staines, but down low, McComas is really that guy that holds that defense together.”
On Cornell junior Jason Noble: “At Cornell, it’s very important for Jason Noble to be that leader because he’s playing in front of a new goaltender. He’s playing in front of two new netminders in [senior Brian] O’Donnell and [sophomore Andrew] West, and one of those goalies hasn’t been [junior and 2011 starter] A.J. Fiore. … So I think him being in front of a new goaltender is incredibly important.”
On Princeton senior Chad Wiedmaier: “Chad Wiedmaier is a guy who’s a hunter. He likes to go out and hunt and chase down attackmen and really get after them. So Wiedmaier, much like Tucker Durkin for Johns Hopkins, is a bully, and I mean that in a good way. He’s a guy who is not going to give you a lot of breathing room, he’s going to always have a stick in your gloves, he’s always going to be in your face.”