Broncos sacrifice bodies for the greater good of the team

Western Herald – sports

“Oh, yeah right here,” senior defenseman Taylor Fleming said, showing off a callused over cut that stretches between his thumb and index finger. “Almost broke my thumb this season from [blocking] a puck,” Fleming explained.

Blocked shots are a crucial statistic in the game of hockey, usually lost among the flashier ones such as goals, assists and saves. Yet, blocked shots can also be the deciding factors in games.

The Western Michigan University Bronco hockey team has a knack for blocking shots. The Broncos went into Friday’s game against the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs having blocked 505 shots on the season. They ranked third in blocked shots in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference only being beaten out by the Bulldogs (511) and the University of Omaha Nebraska Mavericks (539).

To most people, standing in the way of hockey pucks that have been known to reach up to 100 miles per hour is insane. To players, especially defenseman, it is a mindset, Fleming said.

“I guess it is a mindset, especially being a defenseman our job is to keep the puck out of the back of the net,” Fleming said.

Blocking shots however does come with a risk; one Fleming has dealt with a few times in his hockey career.

“This weekend I got one to the face, fortunately we are wearing full shields so you don’t get much to the face, but back in juniors I lost my two front teeth taking a shot to the face. So, I’ve had a few bad experiences where blocking a shot hasn’t gone well, but it’s for the best interest of the team,” Fleming said.

Fleming is second on the team in blocked shots, putting his body in front of a puck 48 times this season. In fact, the team has 15 players who have blocked double digit shots blocked this season. The …

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