Not Your Average Muckers
Tuesday February 26, 2013
Indiana Ice forwards Canon Pieper, Bo Pieper, Alex Talcott, and Austin Hervey have been doing the little things on the ice to help their team. (photos by Whiteshark Photography)
Quartet of Indiana Ice players making the most of their roles
by Sarah Adolf, Indiana Ice
The glass rattles as Alex Talcott slams an opponent into the boards. The puck slides to the corner. Canon Pieper is there, snapping his stick on the ice in pursuit of the puck. The opponent comes away with it, but Bo Pieper is there bullying him into the boards. The puck is eventually cleared and Talcott, Canon, and Bo begin their sprint to the other end, pumping their padded arms and legs across the ice.
This process will be repeated throughout the night. Multiple times. But these aren’t the guys that will lead the team in points. These are the guys that are first on the forecheck. Grinding the boards in the name of teamwork – hunting for a win.
Every team has these players. Every team needs these players. They play an essential role that allows a team to operate. Speed and energy coupled with size and intimidation are key elements for any hockey program. Forwards Canon and Bo, along with Talcott and Austin Hervey provide the USHL’s Indiana Ice with these vital components.
“We like to play at a pretty high pace,” said Bo. “Provide a lot of energy.”
Canon, 19, and Bo, 18, have spent the last two years in the USHL, previously with the Chicago Steel and now with the Indiana Ice. Sprinting to be first on the forecheck and hustling to kill penalties, they don’t see themselves as typical grinders or intimidators.
“We don’t mind playing in the corners,” said Bo. “But I’d say that those terms are kind of overused.”
The brothers, both quick and lean, would rather be known for their versatility; their contributions to the team both offensively and defensively.
“I think the best way to describe the role on our team is two-way players,” said Bo.
Born one year and two days apart, Canon and Bo have played together their whole lives. They can usually be found together on and off the ice. They come in to practice together, sit together at team dinners, and play on the same line during games.
“I know his tendencies,” Bo said. “It just makes it a lot easier to play.”
“We have a sense. We always know where each other are,” said Canon.
Both Pieper brothers will continue to play together after their careers in the USHL are complete. They recently committed to Quinnipiac University’s hockey program in Connecticut and will enroll in the fall of 2014. They plan on continuing their team mentality throughout their hockey careers.
“Everybody likes to score, but there are only so many people on the team that can,” said Canon. “We work hard, we compete, we are willing to make sacrifices for the team.”
If Canon and Bo are the speed for the Ice, Talcott and Hervey are the muscle. Talcott, 17, is in his second season in the USHL and first with the Ice.
“I hit a lot,” said Talcott, laughing. “I kill a lot of penalties. Being a younger guy, I’m not really looked upon to score as much, but they keep me out there to play against some of the other better players on the other teams.”
Hervey, a fellow power forward and sizable intimidator, plays a similar role on the team. The 20-year-old is a veteran, playing in his third year of junior hockey and first with the Ice.
“Being a third-year guy, I’m looked to be a leader on the team,” said Hervey. “I play solid in my defensive zone and then chip in on the offense whenever I can.”
Talcott and Hervey have spent a significant amount of time together on the ice this season. They know they have a specific job to do.
“We wear the other team’s defense down,” said Talcott. “We make them a little bit more scared when they’re going to get the puck because they know one of us is going to be there to hit him. Also, it gets the fans a little bit more excited when we put big hits on people and then the team gets going. You have to accept what your role is. To play at this level, this is what we have to do.”
Hervey is in his last year of junior hockey and will be playing for Western Michigan University in the fall. Talcott, however, still has three years of junior hockey eligibility and the University of Michigan commit plans on expanding his role with the team.
“I would like to be able to do more, but being a first-year guy it’s what I have to do to get into the lineup every night and then I’ll progress from there to move on to contribute more offensively,” said Talcott.
Not every player is able to take on this type of role for a team. Night after night of scraping against the boards or crashing into opponents, these players make bodily sacrifices for the advancement of the team. It can take a toll, but it’s done all in the name of team work.
“I think it’s an exciting role,” said Hervey. “You definitely have to have that mental edge to be in this type of role on a team.”
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 11th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2012-13. With 19 NHL Draft picks on team rosters and over 250 players already committed to NCAA Division I schools this season, the USHL has emerged as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive). Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com).
It’s not just hockey. It’s the USHL.