Hammond Shows Off New Style
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CHICAGO On Thursday night, Denver defenseman Tariq Hammond scored half as many points as he’d scored all season. The junior scored a goal and added two assists, increasing his season total from six points to nine.
“That’s usually not my style of play,” Hammond said. “I’m a defense first kind of guy, but the way we play allows D-men to jump in the rush when we see it applicable and I just got lucky.”
Hammond scored 6:53 into the second period, converting on a feed from Evan Janssen on a two-on-one. The goal pushed the Pioneers ahead 3-0.
“Janny made a great play to pass it to me backdoor and was lucky enough to tap it in so nice to get the win,” Hammond said.
Hammond followed the goal - his first since Feb. 18 - with assists on Dylan Gambrell’s two goals. It marked the first multipoint game for Hammond this season and his first since a two-assist effort against Nebraska-Omaha on March 11, 2016.
The junior doesn’t score much because he’s a physical defender, an attribute that pairs him well with Michael Davies.
“How big and strong he is. It’s nice since I’m a smaller guy. He kind of is a physical guy and I can do my thing. He opens up space for me so I like playing with him,” Davies said.
“He’s such a solid defenseman that I think his offensive game has grown a lot because we don’t spend much time in our zone as a team, but especially when he’s out there. So he’s gotten a lot more offensive chances and it’s grown his game.”
The defense-first attitude that drives Hammond’s game has allowed the Calgary, Alberta, native to aid the offense when occasion arises. Over his career, the defenseman has scored 17 points. His career high of 10 came during the 2015-16 season, when Hammond was a sophomore.
“I know my role on the team and everyone knows their role on the team,” Hammond said. “I played like this whole year and whenever I can jump up in the play and every D man on our team can do that. I just got lucky one of these times, but that’s kind of how we play. We know our roles and we stick to them and we can all make stuff happen.”
The breakout performance for Hammond came at the right time, helping Denver defeat Notre Dame to advance to the championship game. This time last year, Hammond and the Pioneers walked off the ice for the last time this season after losing in the semifinal to North Dakota.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Hammond said. “The year’s flown by and that’s always been in the back of our minds. Especially the older guys. [That’s] always a goal of ours to get back here and we know we had a tough test ahead of us tonight and we weren’t looking past them and I’m glad we were on the right side of it tonight.”