Friday, January 16, 2009

Andy Bohmbach Week: Making of a Favorite

Thanks uwbadgers.com for the picture.

Time to bring Andy Bohmbach week to a close as the Badgers ready to play CC for a pair of important WCHA games.

60 has done an outstanding job this week, actually better than outstanding!

From the title of the post, you can probably guess that the Bohmber is one of my favorite players, and for good reason.

Its been my experience that when you follow a sport's team closely that you develop favorite players beyond the obvious stars on the team who jump out based on draft status or pedigree or hometown (at least in hockey). A casual fan might cheer the hardest for All-American Candidate Jamie McBain, because he is the star defensmen (all-american and hobey baker candidate), or Blake Geoffrion because he is the grandson of the NHL HOFer who created the slapshot and team Captain, or Patrick Johnson because he not only is the son and grandson of legends, but he is also from Madison. I've been the casual fan often in my life for various teams, Patrick Roy w/ the 1993 Canadiens is a good example, and there is nothing wrong w/ that. McB, Geoffrion and Ratty are hard not to like, hell basically every guy on the team is hard not to like.

The reasons why a player is a favorite of one fan and not another is as different as there are number of fans. Like many things of opinion, this is what makes life fun and interesting.

It's really easy to like the big scorer or the top notch goaltender, but in general those things alone don't win my highest praise as a fan. The one thing I look for above all other things is hard work, and making the most of every shift out on the ice.

In the second half of last season Andy Bohmbach finally found his way into some ice time. Brendan Smith went out w/ injury and Josh Engel moved back to the blue line, and Andy was inserted into the lineup and never looked back. As 60's pointed out in earlier posts, Andy's job was mainly as a 4th line energy player/grinder. As we can see this season, the Bohmber has some scoring touch and his skills go beyond a checking line position. While he might have wanted more of a role last season, he did one thing that really impressed me; he took the job that was given him and he went out there every game, every shift and gave it his best effort. At the end of the day, is there really anything more than you can ask from a player? By the NCAA Regional, Andy was a presence on the ice, and it left me feeling this summer than he had a spot wrapped up in the starting lineup.

Fast forward to the current season, and Andy has taken his hard work to new and different stations on the team. The guys are the PK are generally my favorite, they have the most thankless job of anyone on the team. Someone gets a penalty, and they have to fight it off. The Bohmber is one of the best PKers on the team. He has bounced around one several different lines, but it really appears the best combo is the current one w/ Tom Gorowsky and Geoffrion as the top line. That has to be the hardest working line on the team, three guys who aren't afraid to grind in the corner for the puck, hit someone, and make a great play to sneak the puck past the opposing sieve. Top that off w/ some PP time, and Andy is having a breakout Junior season.

The common thread through all of this for me as a fan of the Bohmber is his hardwork and effort on every shift. His mistakes are limited, and you don't see him take many shifts off. It's hard not to like a player like that, and my appreciation for what Andy does in the Cardinal and White grows every time he takes the ice.