Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The name of Superior, Wis. native Tim Smith won't always show up on the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) men's hockey score sheet, but that's far from telling the entire story of his game.
"It's kind of the role that my game is built around -- defensive zone first, puck-moving defenseman," Smith said. "Anything you can do to help the team out."
'It's a testament to how hard Tim works," UMD assistant coach Jason Herter said. "He's been in and out of the lineup at times. He doesn't complain, just keeps his nose to the grindstone. We have a lot of good players like that who come to work every day. If you notice them too much, they're not doing their job."
Smith's primary job is to help keep the puck out of UMD's goal, and that's perhaps put best into numbers by his team-leading plus-six rating.
"He's one of my favorite kinds of players, and I always seemed to have one or two of those guys on my teams growing up," Bulldogs freshman goaltender Alex Fons said. "They're not the most flashy players, and people in the stands don't always notice them, but they're always there in front of the net clearing pucks or blocking shots. They're just kind of a goalie's best friend."
One group the junior defenseman doesn't make friends with on the ice is forwards, and that sometimes includes his UMD teammates.
"I tell myself all the time, 'Thank God we don't have play against Timmy Smith,'" UMD senior forward Mike Seidel said. "He plays hard and practices hard, too. It's good for us, too, because we know what to expect from other defensemen from around the league."
"You try to treat each practice like a game," Smith said. "Push your teammates, and that makes you better. Everyone plays at a higher level."
It helps, also, to schedule top-end opponents. Smith said his teams have been doing that since his high school days playing for the Superior Spartans.
"We play a predominately Minnesota schedule," Smith said of Superior, "and I believe that helped in the transition to playing junior, and then junior obviously helps in the transition to college."