So. | D | Northfield, Minn.
Key Statistics: Docken’s first collegiate season featured just one goal, but he put up double digits in assists from his post on the blue line. That was third on the team, and his 11 points were third-best among his freshman classmates. And if you like a clean game, Docken is your guy, after recording just three penalties—an average of less than one minor penalty every 10 games. He was named the team’s top rookie.
What He Does: After leaving the Minnesota high school ranks, Docken spent two seasons in the North American Hockey League (he was the league’s defensive player of the year twice) and another in the United States Hockey League before getting his shot at a D-I college, meaning he turned 22 as a WCHA rookie. In addition to his maturity, the Seawolves coaches liked that Docken was one of the true shut-down defenseman on all of his pre-college teams and plays a generally mistake-free game. Docken attributes the lack of errors to an on-ice poise that has always been a strength. “I never get too rattled,” Docken said during a break in his summer workout routine. “I try to stay nice and calm.” With an influx of young defensemen on their way to Anchorage, Docken knows that poise will come in handy as he makes the quick transition from last year’s newcomer to this year’s veteran leader.
The Bigger Picture: The Seawolves got a moment in the spotlight two seasons ago, upsetting Minnesota and playing in the WCHA Final Five. Then they underachieved and fell back to the league cellar last season. But the winds of change are blowing in the Last Frontier as the new-look WCHA starts next season and Alaska Anchorage will be permanently paired with arch-rival Alaska in the league playoffs, meaning either the Seawolves or Nanooks will make the post-season tourney every year. “With the conference changing, we can do a lot of good things,” Docken said. “Some of our guys got a taste of the Final Five and now we know we have a chance to be a big fish in the pond.” As part of that transition, Docken looks to provide more offense as a sophomore and will seek more opportunities to join the rush on a team hungry for goals.
Seawolves coach Dave Shyiak on Docken: “Derek plays all the hard minutes and will be a key player for us on the back end. We think he has the tools to develop his offensive game as we saw his confidence rise in the second half when we put him in those situations.”