From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line)
By Michael McHugh
Who's afraid of the Boogeyman?
Aeros.com Junior Reporter
As a kid, everyone feared the Boogeyman. It was their worst childhood nightmare.
But in Houston, its a different story. People arent afraid. They love the Boogeyman. Hes a hero, and one of the most popular guys around.
The ones who fear him most are the opponents of the Houston Aeros. And they have good reason to.
He can stop them in their tracks. He has a physical presence on the ice that makes his opponents think twice about taking him on. Many brag about getting the Boogeyman, but few can take him down. Hes the guy youre glad is on your side.
Derek Boogaard, the Aeros 6-foot-7, 270-pound winger, is the Boogeyman.
On the ice he brings a lot of intensity to the game. Its not uncommon on any given night to see him drop his gloves and let the other team know he means business. Verbal exchanges are a part of his game, and you can bet hes not sharing recipes or talking about the weather.
If you need a big hit hes out there to throw his body around, said teammate Brent Burns. He takes a little punishment to get the team going and hes the guy that if anyone does anything to you, you can count on him to go take care of business.
Boogaard takes his role as the policeman on the team in stride. He knows what he has to do, and he makes no bones about it. Mess with his teammates, and you mess with him. His presence on the bench is sometimes all that is needed to keep the peace.
My role is to look after the guys, and I have to stick up for my teammates when another player takes liberty on one of our guys, said Boogaard. I have to go in there and look after them.
Some nights, it seems his home away from home is the penalty box. Currently, he leads the team with 247 penalty minutes.
Hes always there when you need someone to stick up for you, added Ray Giroux. He does a really good job at it and hes had a great year.
Boogaard was drafted in the seventh round of the 2001 draft by the Minnesota Wild. For three years he played in the WHL where he racked up 670 penalty minutes in 174 games with Regina, Prince George and Medicine Hat. He began his professional career in ECHL Louisiana in 2002-03, and he physically dominated the league. Then he came to Houston in the 2003-2004 season.
In juniors, Boogaard had a reputation as a fighter. At fourteen, he actually quit playing hockey for a while. The pressures to be successful and the desire to try something new took over.
It was just an age when youre a kid and you want to try other things. I tried other things, and didnt like it as much as I liked hockey, so I stuck with it, said Boogaard. His dad and a coach talked him in to giving it another try, and he did.
While with the Louisiana IceGators, he worked hard on developing his hockey skills and proving he deserved a shot at the highest level of the game.
Tom Lynn, general manager of the Aeros and assistant general manager of the Minnesota Wild, took notice.
Boogey is a great guy. Hes a player whom coaches tried earlier in his career to make him too much of a physical specimen, a fighter, whereas the Wild wants him to be a player like Matt Johnson of the Wild. Since hes been here for two years, hes worked relentlessly on his game in practice, so now he can shoot, pass and skate like a NHL player. Hes very close to playing in the NHL and if he keeps playing like he is, youll see him there before long.
While he might be intimidating on the ice, hes anything but off the ice. He is quiet, friendly and somewhat shy.
Boogey is a really funny guy. Quiet when theres a whole bunch of people but hes pretty funny when youre one on one, said Burns.
While his teammates admire and respect him, so does his coach.
Derek is obviously a very valuable asset to our hockey club, said Aeros head coach Todd McLellan. Hes become a fan favorite, but over and above that, those type of players are needed nowadays so the skilled players feel comfortable on the ice. He may have the toughest job on the team but he does it as well as anybody else in the league.
Boogaard in fact, helped the Aeros to victory over Grand Rapids by scoring his first AHL goal on Easter Sunday.
The crowd went wild, and let him know how they felt about him by giving him a well deserved standing ovation.
When playing at home the Boogeyman is a crowd favorite. He gets the fans going, and when lineups are announced, you can hear moans and groans if hes not playing. On the road, its a different story. He gets heckled quite a bit. I dont even listen to them, he said. I get so many.
Like all the AHL players, he has his sights set on getting to the NHL.
The coaches here are awesome and have treated me really well through all my time here. Its helped a lot with their encouragement, said Boogaard.
But for now, he still has work to do in Houston, helping the Aeros get to the playoffs, taking care of his team, and making a run for another Calder Cup championship.
After his last performance, perhaps a new hockey chant at Toyota Center should be, He shoots, he scores, hey Boogey, You Rock! JUST FOR FUN:Q:
Do you like the nickname Boogeyman? A:
Yeah, I got it when I was 16 years old. Its pretty cool. Q:
What was your most embarrassing moment? A:
When I missed a guy and flew into the boards and went into the bench. Q:
Does it hurt when you get slammed on the boards? A:
Not usually, because the boards give, but sometimes it might hurt a bit for some other players (smiles) Q:
How do you describe your journey to where you are today? A:
Long and hard. Q:
Is there any one person you seem to fight with the most? A:
Probably Kip Brennan with Chicago.
Thirteen-year-old Michael McHugh, a student at Friendswood Junior High, writes the Junior Reporter Corner for the Pearland/Friendswood Reporter News. He has a regular feature on www.aeros.com
. Photos by Jeanie McHugh of the Pearland/Friendswood Reporter News.
The Aeros play host to the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. The teams are tied for third place in the West Division. It's an Aeros Happy Hour. Get a center ice ticket, free parking and $10 in Toyota Bucks ($45 value) for just $30! Or, get a corner ticket and free parking for just $15 ($27 value). Order via www.aeros.com/themenights
. Username is Happy, password is Hour.
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