Sr. | D | Bloomington, Minn.
had five power-play goals in 2004-05, a key part of a
unit that had the third-best power play in WCHA play.
Statistics: A star forward in high school, Gilbert
has emerged into the prototypical offensive defenseman in
juniors and in Madison. In his one season with the USHL’s
Chicago Steel, Gilbert was the league’s top goal-scoring
blueliner with 13. So it should surprise nobody to learn that
Gilbert’s eight goals last season were more than double
the total of any other Badger rearguard.
He Does: Scouts wanting the book on Gilbert’s
talent and leadership need look no further than the nearest
bookstore. He’s prominently featured in “Blades
of Glory,” John Rosengren’s 2003 tome about high
school pucks in Minnesota. Gilbert says he’s only read
about half the book so far, but gets constant good-natured
heat from his teammates about his early literary success.
“Of course, I tell them it’s just jealousy,”
Bigger Picture: Badger players and their coach bristle
at the notion that it’s “defense first”
on the ice of the Kohl Center these days. Wisconsin skipper
Mike Eaves says they spend as much time working on what do
to with the puck as they do on what to do when the other team
has it. Exhibit A in the case for Badger offense is their
leading defenseman, who says his preferred position is in
the slot in front of the opponent’s net, preparing to
fire a one-timer after a pass from the corner. Gilbert was
voted assistant captain by his team before his junior season
and voted team MVP at season’s end. The coach isn’t
surprised at the accolades, based on the work ethic he sees
in the weight room and in practice. “The players know,”
Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves on Gilbert: “We
look for him to lead that second wave of offensive support.
Tom brings that forward mentality to the blue line and he’s
such a fine skater that he can be that weak-side defenseman
leading the rush.”