Updated Sat, Dec 1, 2012 8:34 pm
At the start of the Ohio University hockey team’s season, many questions surrounded the Bobcats’ blue line. After losing many of the defensemen on their roster to graduation and with no one returning for a senior season, many around the ACHA wondered how Ohio’s defense corps would fare in 2012-13.
Now about halfway through the season, those who were asking have their answer, as junior Jonathan Gulch has seamlessly emerged as the Bobcats’ number one defenseman.
Gulch, a smooth skating, puck rushing defenseman, has also been able to use his smarts to help him excel in his increased role that was bestowed upon him at the start of his junior year. Game-in and game-out he displays the fundamentals of playing defense that he says were taught to him in his youth.
“I had a really good coach growing up who knew the game really well,” he said when asked about his good sense of when to pinch up or back off of a play on the blue line. “He always knew the exact time to pinch, the exact time to do everything, so he told us all that stuff when I was younger and it stuck with me.”
Like most great d-men, Gulch is also very aware of what he believes to be shortcomings in his game and works hard to improve on them every chance he gets.
“I try to work on my defensive skills every practice to try and make those better, because as a defenseman, you’re nothing without being able to play defense.”
In addition to his individual play on the ice, Gulch has quickly stepped into a leadership role with the team, too. With no returning seniors and four newcomers to the team’s defense, he and fellow junior defensemen Paul Sergi and Duncan Green have done the most they can to help the defense corps as a whole improve.
“I try to help everyone in practice that I can,” Gulch said, “Even though we don’t have a senior class in our defense, everybody respects everybody, and those freshmen coming in, they are a great group of guys. They listen to us, and if they have something to say we will listen to them, so that we can all get better.”
A lot can change in the months leading up to the CSCHL Conference Tournament and ensuing quest for a national title, but one thing should remain constant. Jonathan Gulch will be the anchor on the Ohio blue line for the rest of the 2012-13 season. And with his speed, agility, hockey sense and well-timed hits, Gulch will be one of the most complete defensemen in the ACHA next year, as well.