“Ben who?” was the customary reaction from Anaheim Ducks fans when they had heard that the team had acquired the stay-at-home defenseman from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ben Lovejoy, just after the start of the shortened 2012-2013 season.
Today, however, Lovejoy has endeared himself to the Ducks faithful by playing a gritty, defensive style that has helped the Ducks become one of the top teams in the league in the past few years.
Upon arriving to the Ducks, both the fans and Bruce Boudreau himself had noticed how well he clicked with the young defenseman Cam Fowler. Ever since, the two have been one of the team’s (and the league’s) top defensive duos.
Lovejoy’s biggest impact for the team can be seen on the defensive side of the rink, in which he helped improve the team’s goals against average from 25th in the league in the 2011-2012 season (prior to his arrival), to 3rd in the league in the 2012-2013 campaign.
Here is just one example of Lovejoy’s stellar defensive play, in which his acrobatic dive helped prevent the San Jose Sharks from scoring a crucial goal in the team’s thrilling New Year’s Eve victory, 6-3. After Lovejoy’s save, the Ducks would go the other way and score, a thrilling few moments for the Honda Center patrons.
This game can be seen as Lovejoy’s break out party, in which the veteran defenseman made it in time for puck drop, even though him and his wife had just celebrated the birth of their daughter earlier that day.
Nobody expected me here for pregame skate or the game. They were like, Take care of things with your family. But I think they, like me, were extremely excited that it happened well before the game and that I was able to get here…It was such a good day in my life. I was so happy that we were able to beat that team, and I was able to play. Everything worked out perfectly that day. Hopefully, we can make this December 31st just as special, and beat the Sharks again.
Lovejoy even did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with his family in his native New Hampshire over the summer.
Aside from his diving save on New Year’s Eve, another memorable Lovejoy moment is one off the ice, when the eloquently spoken Lovejoy gave a postgame speech to Ducks fans who decided to mob to the Honda Center after the team evened up the series 2-2 against the Los Angeles Kings in the semifinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
If his career-high numbers in points (18), plus/minus (+21), games played (78), goals (5), and game-winning goals (2) he posted in the 2013-2014 season are any indication, it looks as though Lovejoy will continue to have a big impact for the Ducks in the coming years.
Lovejoy put it best when he said:
There is a lot to cheer for this year. We have two high-end superstars in their prime who are playing the best hockey of their careers. We have young guys who are on the verge of superstardom who are going to be impact players. We play a fun game with so much speed. It’s fun to be a part of and fun to watch. Everybody is just so excited to get back to Anaheim and get back to work.
You can find out more of what Lovejoy’s summer has been like, here.
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