Derrer uses experience on boys teams as Syracuse freshman defender

first_img Published on October 21, 2014 at 11:54 pm Contact Jon: [email protected] | @jmettus When Dakota Derrer was 2 years old, she already looked like a hockey player.Her brother, Dustin Derrer, who is 3 years older, was pushing her in a cart in the basement of their home in Mancelona, Michigan. She hit her mouth on something, sending her teeth up into her gums.“For a long time until her regular teeth came in she had no two front teeth, so she already looked tough,” Dustin Derrer said.Two years later, she started learning how to play hockey. When she joined a team at age 5 or 6, it was no surprise that she played with the boys. And when Derrer stepped on the ice for Syracuse’s (1-1-4) season opener against Colgate on Oct. 2., it was her first time playing women’s hockey. The toughness and skills she learned from playing with the guys have helped her become a reliable defender playing significant minutes for the Orange.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I just think she’s just a steady, stay-at-home defenseman,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “She’s strong, she ties people up well and she jumps on loose pucks pretty well.” At 12 years old, Derrer was cut from her hockey team because the coach didn’t want a girl on the roster. So she joined the 13- and 14-year-old team, even though she was younger than all the other players.In high school, she played on a co-op team with players from five other nearby high schools. There was only one other girl on the team, but she played goalie, and only one other team Derrer played against had a girl on the team.“There were a few parents that didn’t like it because they didn’t like seeing a girl get more playing time than their sons,” said Doug Derrer, her father.Other teams would sometimes target her because she was a girl, Derrer said, but then she would deliver a big hit and they would stop.“It’s just part of the game,” Derrer said. “I played around it.”It was that mentality and her ability to play physically that earned her the nickname, “Pork chop,” from her brothers Dustin and Dylan Derrer.Flanagan has made his team watch a YouTube video of Derrer laying out an opponent in high school — not so much as a motivational tactic, but for entertainment and boosting Derrer’s pride.In a game during her senior year, Derrer crushed a different opponent as he received a pass over the middle of the ice. Coaches had to come onto the ice to help him up because he had the air knocked out of him and his teammates laughed at him for getting hit by a girl.“It kind of showed that she was a girl, but she can hit and play hockey with the guys,” Dustin Derrer said.Despite her ability, no college women’s teams were recruiting Derrer because no one was looking for a girl playing on a boys’ hockey team.Flanagan heard about her through a friend that had seen her play, so he sent assistant coach Brendon Knight to watch her play. After seeing her toughness, SU made an offer and she jumped on it.Women who have played against men have better awareness defensively and offensively, Flanagan said. Because she played with men, Flanagan said Derrer is psychologically tougher than other players and women’s hockey isn’t physically challenging for her.Derrer fights along the boards better than most, she said, and can absorb contact and stay on her skates. She has a hard, accurate shot, Flanagan said, and she moves the puck quickly.Sometimes, though, she wishes she could still hit people skating blindly across the center of the ice — something Flanagan was worried about. In her first game for SU, she had to stop herself from checking a girl who was skating behind the net with the puck.Said Derrer: “I just have to have better footwork instead of running into guys, but I’m getting used to it.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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