Wolves rookie defenseman Vince Dunn isn’t afraid to stand up for himself, but he doesn’t consider himself a tough guy.
However, when Dunn and Iowa Wild right wing Kurtis Gabriel recently engaged in a fight that spilled into the hallway at Allstate Arena and went viral, Dunn’s reputation rose to an unexpected level.
The incident cemented what Dunn’s teammates have known since he made the jump from the Ontario Hockey League.
“I just don’t like to be pushed around and don’t like to be taken advantage of on the ice,” Dunn said.
Dunn is riding a five-game scoring streak (four goals, three -assists) entering the game against the Cleveland Monsters on Thursday, when the Wolves go for their seventh consecutive victory. His 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) rank second among AHL rookie -defensemen.
Dunn’s abilities made him a perfect fit after Brad Hunt was called up to the St. Louis Blues in December. Hunt’s absence created openings on the Wolves’ power-play and penalty-killing units. That meant more ice time for Dunn as well as roles he didn’t expect to fill as a rookie.
“It’s a lot of responsibility for me, but it’s also kind of a compliment from [coach Craig Berube],” Dunn said. “It really says to me that he believes in me.”
Dunn, who leads the Wolves with 60 penalty minutes, plays bigger than his 6-foot, 187-pound frame might suggest.
“He sticks up for himself, and he plays with jam out there,” Berube said. “I think people look at the points and his ability with the puck and the moves, but [Dunn] plays with an edge out there.”
Dunn’s rookie season has provided learning opportunities. Although he hasn’t always taken Berube’s constructive criticism the way it was intended, Dunn has grown in ways he might not have in a lesser role.
He often finds himself battling more imposing players, especially in the corners. But like his much-ballyhooed scuffle with Gabriel demonstrates, Dunn has become well-versed in holding his own.
He hopes his aggressiveness isn’t misconstrued as recklessness.
“Hopefully, [people] don’t think I’m a goon by any means,” Dunn said. “I never want to have that [reputation]. I just don’t like to be pushed around.”
Goossens’ injury ‘cruel’
The Fire announced that midfielder John Goossens will miss five to six months after he undergoes surgery Friday on his right ankle. The injury occurred during the Fire’s season-opening draw against Columbus on Saturday.
“John’s injury is cruel, particularly given the effort he was making on the play in added time,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said. “We’re sure he will work to return to the field this season and find ways to contribute to the team in the interim.”
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