Solid in his own end, Peltier will be looking
to build upon an 18-point sophomore season.
Key Statistics: A team-leading
offensive defenseman in the USHL, Peltier has transitioned
to the ironman defensive defenseman role in his first
two seasons at Minnesota. He hasn’t missed a game
since the second outing of his rookie year and is second
among Minnesota’s returning blueliners offensively
after recording a goal and 17 assists last season.
What He Does: Supposedly,
defensemen have it worst on Olympic-size ice sheets,
with 15 more feet of blue line to cover. But you’ll
never hear Peltier grouse about the ocean of ice at
Mariucci Arena. “I’m a lot more comfortable
on the big sheet, with more time to make plays and more
open ice to find guys in,” he says. The Gophers
are loaded with young talent at forward this season,
and those rookies should benefit from a veteran defenseman
who’s looking to feed them the puck.
The Bigger Picture: For
the first time in more than four years, there are no
players on the Gopher hockey roster who have won a NCAA
title. And with the way last season ended, the Gophers
who are returning to campus have a renewed focus on
making a run at the program’s third national crown
of the decade. The last time the Gophers made the Frozen
Four, in 2005, their coach says the solid play of three
rookie defensemen (Peltier, Alex Goligoski and Nate
Hagemo) played a huge role in earning the trip to Columbus.
Despite his success as the set-up man, Peltier says
his shot can always get better, and he’ll have
the green light from coaches – who call him a
great transition defenseman – to shoot more from
the point this season.
Minnesota head coach Don Lucia
on Peltier: “Derek has been a valuable
player for us since day one. He’s quietly pretty
consistent and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.
His strength is being on the big rink and making plays.
He’s better with the puck than without it.”