Ice Hockey

Dakota Derrer plays role of shot blocker for Syracuse

Allie Wahl | Staff Photographer

Dakota Derrer leads Syracuse with 39 shots blocked on the season. That's been a key role for the Orange this season and has resulted in a CHA-leading defense.

Dakota Derrer doesn’t claim to be one of Syracuse’s most skilled players, so she’s had to find a niche to get playing time.

She found that spot in being an aggressive, shot blocking defender. Derrer currently leads Syracuse with 39 blocked shots, 18 more than the next highest player, Jessica Sibley.

“I grew up with two brothers,” Derrer said, “and we always played hockey downstairs and they always shot the pucks at me, so it didn’t really bother me.”

Derrer’s aggressive defensive style and grinding play have anchored the Syracuse (4-7-3, 3-2-1 College Hockey America) defense. The defender’s shot blocking has helped the Orange roll into a home-and-home weekend against the Rochester Institute of Technology (3-15, 1-5 CHA) with the CHA’s best defense and least goals allowed per game.

“Remember those hats that came out a few years ago that said, ‘No fear?’ Literally,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “A lot of it is just not having that fear of frozen, vulcanized rubber coming at you at varying speeds.”

Derrer prides herself on blocking shots and winning the puck in the corner. Playing fearlessly fuels Derrer’s edge to being a true grinder, but she also possesses fundamentals.

Flanagan said she knows the right spots to drop and block shots so the puck hits her in the body and arms, not the face and neck. Derrer also takes pride in going into “dirty areas” and doing what other players might be more reluctant to do. She views it is a necessity.

“I got a lot more playing time when I was being a grinder because I didn’t really do anything else so that’s how I made myself a player so I could get playing time,” Derrer said.

But the physical, aggressive defense does not come without a cost. After a 3-0 Friday night victory over then-No. 7 North Dakota, a game where the Orange blocked 28 shots and Derrer blocked five, she was almost unable to play the next day because of the physical toll it took, Flanagan said.

And when it comes to penalty minutes, Derrer leads the team with 15 penalties for 30 minutes.

But Derrer’s play has helped SU’s blue line be one of the best in the conference. It gives up the fewest goals per game at 1.86 and boasts a penalty kill of 85.5 percent. By doing things other players might not want to do, Derrer has been able to lift herself and team.

“When I block a shot when the bench gets crazy,” Derrer said, “they get loud, it boosts me up, it gives the team more will to go.”

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