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Dunn adds versatility to LSSU offense

Alex Dunn

Dec. 13, 2003

By Lindsey Mechalik, LSSU Sports Information Intern

To hit or be hit? Sophomore Alex Dunn brings a defensive mindset to the Lake Superior State offense.

Dunn began last season playing defense as he had done throughout his entire pre-college career. By the end of the season, the 5-foot-11-inch, 180-pounder was pulling regular shifts as a forward.

"Last year the team had a few guys quit and a couple guys get injured," Dunn said. "We were down to 18 skaters. In the middle of one game, I was called up to play forward. I played two shifts on forward that night. The following weekend I played both games up front. Since then I have been playing forward. We have a lot of big defensemen, and I am not really that big of a guy."

Dunn took the change in stride.

"I am happy wherever I play," he said. "To me, the thing that is important is that I am playing no matter if it is forward, defense, or goalie. We were joking around in the locker room that I think goalie is the only position I haven't played yet. (Switch to forward) is a big change, but it's a fun change. It's nice that instead of getting run into the boards all the time, I can be the one doing the running."

The move from defense to forward can be confusing and hard. The two positions are completely different. Dunn continues to learn his new position.

"At forward I have to do a lot more skating," he said. "One positive thing is that you're not the last guy to protect the goalie, so if you get beat by the other player there are guys behind you to help you out. Whereas at defense, if you get out-skated they have a clean break on the goalie. A little pressure is gone when I play forward.

"The change was hard at first. The first couple games I was asking guys, 'what do I do, where do I go?' I really didn't know where I should be or what to be doing during the breakout. Once in a while, I find myself wanting to stay back in the defensive position. I am still learning what to do with the puck down in the corners. I am more of a defensive forward than an offensive forward. I have played defense my whole life. Before playing forward here, I had maybe played a year and half total at the position during my whole hockey career. It is different because I used to like being the last guy out of the zone and getting a chance to hit more guys."

Dunn's parents are his biggest supporters, and he says they have had the biggest impact on his hockey career. His father, Bob, works at General Motors. His mother, Melinda, works as a secretary at a roofing company and also works at a local rink by his house. She works in the snack bar and runs an over-30 league.

"My parents are always supporting me, whatever I do," Dunn said. "They make the trip up every weekend for home games. I don't think my dad is going to miss a game this year. They drove to the games in both New York and Nebraska. Last year the only games they missed were the ones in Maine and Alaska.

"It is really nice to have them there. If I have a bad game, I have someone there to talk to. My dad watches, and it helps because he will always tell me the truth on how I played. He helps me to figure out what I can do to bounce back the next night."

Dunn's parents put him on skates as soon as he could walk.

"I started skating when I was one and a half," Dunn said. "I started playing in games when I was about two and half. Ever since, I have been playing and loved it. I keep playing because it is fun and helps me get through school. I'll keep playing until I stop having fun. My dad started playing hockey a little before we did. He doesn't play any more, but he skates every once in a while. He skated with us when we were home for Thanksgiving."

Dunn has a 26-year-old brother, J.R., who is married and has a 1 year-old son. J.R. played travel hockey growing up and for the Junior B Metro Jets when he was in high school. Currently, he plays in a men's league and officiates. During the summer, the brothers are able to play hockey together. J.R. tries to make to as many as his brother's games as possible. Because he is finishing firefighter testing, he can't travel to the Sault as often as he would like.

Wanting to become firefighters is just another thing the Dunn brothers have in common. Alex is majoring in fire science and minoring in criminal justice at Lake Superior State. After hockey, Dunn would like to start his career as a firefighter and move into arson investigation. He can receive all of his certifications at LSSU.

This summer, Dunn hopes to have an internship at a Chicago fire department.

"We won't get to go into any of the fires," Dunn said. "I'm doing the internship with my friend, whose dad is a lieutenant. From what I know so far, we will be doing a lot of the grunt work. We will be pulling and testing hoses, testing hydrants. We get to ride to the fires or accidents. We will get to see what happens, and they will explain and show us how to do everything. It will be a great learning experience."

Prior to coming to LSSU, Dunn played in the North American Hockey League for the Capital Center Pride. He joined the Lansing team after being traded from the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League. Dunn was named the Pride's assistant captain two months after he was traded and kept the position the following season.

Dunn and his teammates have noticed positive changes in the Lakers this season.

"I think the team has grown together a little more than last season," he said. "It helps us to have had most of our freshman class from last year stay and to have only lost a few guys. On top of that, we have a good freshmen class this year.

"We all get along pretty well. There are times when we will get together and all go out. We do things as a whole, as a team, instead of like on past teams I have been on where there have been cliques. It's neat because you have a group of guys that is like a second family."

When they are not playing hockey, Dunn and his housemates like to play videogames and ping-pong.

A change in environment attracted Dunn to Lake Superior State.

"I like that Lake State is not too far from home," Dunn said. "It's different from back home. I really like the change. I like the snow. I love the tradition of Laker hockey -- everything they have accomplished in the past. I like that we are starting to see in us how the past teams played. We are starting to see how they won in the 80's, when Coach was here. Everything is really starting to work."

Dunn enjoys giving back to the school and community. During the summer he helped at freshmen orientation. He also was a counselor at the Laker Hockey School and a few camps close to home. He plans to participate in a Christmas event that enables children in the community to spend time with athletes. He will sign autographs and help spread Christmas cheer while giving youngsters a thrill of a lifetime.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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