When defenseman Brad Lutsch ended his college hockey career last season, many thought IU's lethal power play would soon follow. As the Hoosiers' all time leader in goals, assists and points, Lutsch was a four-year stalwart on the power play and effectively fulfilled the role of the team's strongest defenseman. But after a rocky start, the Hoosiers are up to their old tricks with the man advantage, most recently displayed last week when they went 3-for-5 against top competition in the Big Ten Classic. \nMuch of the credit for the turnaround belongs to senior defenseman Tim McMahon, team captain and heir to Lutsch's title as the squad's leading defenseman.\n"Tim's seeing a lot more time on the power play this year," coach Rich Holdeman said. "When Brad was here, he had the puck all the time, and it worked well, obviously. This year, we've had to find different ways to create offense and Tim's been a big part of that."\nAlthough not the sniper from the point that Lutsch was, McMahon has nevertheless taken well to his expanded role. \n"Brad always came out with the big shot and he was always a presence on the ice," McMahon said "We'd force the puck to him last year so he could get the shot on net. This year, I think my role is really just setting things up. I'm not shooting as much as I'd like to be. My responsibility is just to find the open man down low. Last weekend things were great."\nComing off of his best offensive season (31 points in 29 games), McMahon is off to another hot start with two goals and nine assists in the first 12 games. The swift skating defenseman has an exceptional eye for finding that open forward speeding through the neutral zone and quickly getting the puck up to him for an offensive break. \nBut McMahon is no run-of-the-mill, soft offensive defenseman. As a young Chicago Blackhawks fan growing up in South Bend, McMahon idolized future Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios. The comparison is fitting as the 6-foot-2 195 lb. defenseman is, essentially, a collegiate Chelios; just as likely to crush an opponent with one of his signature thunderous open ice checks as he is to weave through a maze of defenders for an end to end rush.\n "I like to hit quite a bit," he said. "I grew up playing football, and I always had an older brother picking on me so I had to hold my own. I've always enjoyed the hitting aspect of the game, it just translated from football over to the ice."\nA former All-State linebacker at St. Joseph's High School in South Bend, McMahon brings a level of excitement to the Hoosier lineup with his willingness to step up in the neutral zone for those big, highlight reel hits. But he's earned even more respect for being able to play so aggressively without hurting his team by taking unnecessary penalties.\n"He has a good eye for being able to line people up and play the body," said Holdeman. "But he's really a clean player, he doesn't take that many penalties. I don't think discipline was every really a problem for him."\nAs impressive as he's been on the power play, McMahon's most impressive contributions this season might have come in the locker room. This is his first season as team captain, having been voted by his teammates along with fellow-senior Dan Hauck. So far, the ex-linebacker has gotten nothing but kudos for his team leadership.\n"He speaks when he needs to speak. He leads by example on the ice and is one of the better captains we've had," said Assistant coach Chris Quimby. "He's not necessarily just a leader on the ice, he does it on the bench and in the locker room as well. He's a great role model for our younger players."\nMcMahon said he will be looking to continue his outstanding season tonight as the Hoosiers play their final two games of the semester against former MCHL rival University of Dayton. Face-off is 7:30 p.m. today and tomorrow and the Frank Southern Center Ice Arena on South Henderson.
Get stories like this in your inboxSubscribe