August 26, 2004

Wayne State
Jr. | D | Riverview, Mich.

Improved defense will be key for Wayne State's chances, and Kovalchik leads the effort from the blueline. (Photo by Mark Hicks/Westside Photo)


Key Statistics: Kovalchik notched one goal and 12 assists last season. He was whistled for only five penalties (10 minutes) all year – a scant number for a defensive defenseman with 31 games played. Kovalchik improved his plus/minus rating from -23 as a freshman to -4 as a sophomore, which is even more impressive when you consider how much worse the Warriors were last year than during their CHA championship season of 2002-03.

What He Does: Kovalchik doesn’t draw a lot of attention, but he’s one of the most dependable own-zone players in College Hockey America. His No. 1 goal each shift is to do the little things required for a successful defensive scheme – clearing pucks out of the zone, covering forwards down low, tying up sticks in front of the net, blocking shots from the point. With only one senior on the roster (forward John Grubb), Kovalchik and defense partner Greg Poupard will have fill the leadership void.

The Bigger Picture: Wayne State allowed a robust 4.00 goals per game last year – fifth worst in the nation. Obviously, if the Warriors are going to have any measure of success this time around, the defense will have to cowboy up. Kovalchik said the edict to play solid team defense – even, possibly, at the expense of some offensive chances – has been handed down from the coaching staff. That will put a great onus on Kovalchik as both an upperclassman and a defensive defenseman to “show the other guys what to do.”

Regarding the obscurity in which most defensive defensemen dwell, Kovalchik says: “It’s good to get noticed sometimes. Going against the other team’s top line all the time, maybe you don’t get the attention from the media, or have fans coming up to you, but the coaching staff will come over and give you a pat on the back and let you know you did a good job. We know that the guys on the team appreciate what we do, and that’s what matters most.”

— James Jahnke

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