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Gysbers brings a goal-scoring threat to LSSU defensive unit
Nov. 15, 2007
By MacKENZIE BARRETT, LSSU Sports Information Student Intern
Lake Superior State sophomore Simon Gysbers started playing hockey at the age of four after watching his older brother play on the homemade rink in his family's backyard. The support of his family has always been important and is shown by his parents, Andy and Wendy Gysbers, traveling seven hours for every home series to watch their son play.
Gysbers, who is from Richmond Hill, Ont., is a business marketing major who had numerous reasons for choosing to continue his hockey career at LSSU. He wanted to play at the Division I level. He liked the academic programs offered, and the school was about the same size as his high school of 2,500 students. He has enjoyed a smooth transition to college life after earning league-wide outstanding defenseman awards during his two-year stint with the Stouffville Spirit of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League.
Gysbers has found his home on the Laker defense, but he wasn't always a defenseman. He was a center during his early years of youth hockey. When a defenseman on his team was injured during his fourth season, his coached asked him to play defense, and he's been on the blue line ever since.
During his rookie collegiate season last year, Gysbers not only kept stride with the talented Laker veterans, but made a major impact with his goal-scoring ability from the top of the circle. He totaled 4-8--12 to finish second among Laker rookies and third among LSSU defensemen in points. He scored a goal in each game of LSSU's three-game Central Collegiate Hockey Association first-round playoff series against Ferris State. He shared LSSU's Outstanding Freshman Award with forward Nathan Perkovich.
"Simon is a very good two-way defenseman," LSSU coach Jim Roque said. "He can play against the best players. He shows up everyday to get better, has an excellent feel for the game and is very poised. He is coming into his own like Derek A. Smith last year."
Gysbers credits improvement in his slap shot to everyday practice at the rink, continually shooting and building overall strength in the weightroom. His timely shooting touch resulted in a very important goal against Michigan Tech during the Lakers' season-opening series. Gysbers scored on a long-range shot with one second remaining in the first period and cut the Huskies' lead in half, 2-1.
"Why not try? I have seen it happen in the NHL, so I gave it a shot and it worked," he said.
"Something special about Simon's shot is that he has more experience getting the shot off quicker," Roque said. "He maintains a good technique and has good leverage on a long stick."
Senior Justin Gutwald was playing forward at the end of last season when Gysbers helped the Lakers hit their stride offensively. This year, Gutwald is Gysbers' defensive partner.
"Toward the end of last year he got a lot stronger and started to show more confidence in the way he was carrying the puck," Gutwald said. "This year it seems like his conditioning is a lot better. He doesn't seem to tire out as much when he's on the power play. (Fatigue) depends on who we're playing, and if it's the first night or second night of a series."
Gutwald, who describes himself as a defensive defenseman, said that Gysbers is always ready for a pass.
"He is really good on the point on the power play," Roque added. "Anyone would like to get him shots."
In only his second collegiate season, Gysbers is considered a veteran on a young Laker defense that includes two or three freshmen in the lineup on any given night.
"We have a lot of skilled guys who came in, and we are making a lot of improvements," he said. "We also need to make more plays, be creative, and score more this year."
Because of Gysbers' scoring threat, he and Gutwald have seen interesting line matchups during the early part of the season, which has included several games against nationally-ranked teams. Gysbers takes it all in stride.
"He's pretty laid-back, not too high-strung," Gutwald said. "He is well-liked and has a great sense of humor. He's very calm out there with the puck. I never see him get rattled."
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey