Dotchin Working To Be More Than Stay-At-Home Defenseman

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Jake Dotchin is adding more facets to his game in his third pro season.

Despite being known more as a physical people-mover than a flashy puck-mover, the Crunch blueliner is coming off a career week statistically. Dotchin registered five points and was a plus-five on Syracuse’s three-game homestand last week.

Dotchin is working to become more than a traditional stay-at-home defenseman.

“I think I’ve come a long way in the defensive zone, and I’m just bringing more aspects to my game now,” Dotchin said. “Bringing more offense will not only help me, but help the team win as well.”

Dotchin recorded his second goal of the season in a 4-2 win over Lehigh Valley on Wednesday, chipped in three assists in a 4-2 win over Albany, and closed out the week with another assist in a 4-3 shootout win against Utica.

Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx believes one adjustment to Dotchin’s style could make a big difference in his game.

“I think having five points is a bonus for Jake. … He’s a solid player for us defensively, but I think he can do more for us,” Groulx said of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s sixth-round selection in the 2012 draft. “I think he’s got the potential to become a transition defenseman. That doesn’t mean to be more offensive, but skating more.”

“A transition defenseman is a defenseman that is very active and dynamic,” Groulx added. “With the shot he’s got, with the hands he’s got, he’s got a decent hockey sense -- I think if he can add that to his game, he can bring his game to another level.”

Although he focused on his own zone early in the season, Dotchin has continued to develop his skating and the offensive side of his game.

“We really worked on getting the puck and breaking out early in the year,” the 6-3, 212-pounder said. “I think he really drove that home into me early on. I think I’ve been breaking pucks out well and making good first passes. Onto the next one, I guess, and that’s just getting my feet moving more, being more offensively involved and getting up in the play.”

Dotchin has two goals, eight assists and is a plus-eight in 21 games this season, and has 41 points in 143 career AHL regular season games.

“I can chip in,” Dotchin said. “Am I going to put up 50 points? I don’t think so, but I can definitely chip in offensively. I think I see the ice well, I just have to move my feet more and get open in spots where guys can find me.”

For Groulx, the key for Dotchin is creating good habits.

“Sometimes it’s tough to see you doing things you’ve never done before,” Groulx said. “It’s something that once you do it once, and you do it a second time and more often it becomes a habit and you realize ‘Wow, my game is much better now.’”

Pictured: Crunch defenseman Jake Dotchin looks to make a pass against the Comets at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.