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He isn’t a “talker.”
That’s Dov Grumet-Morris, the goalie whose mouth runs like a river.
He doesn’t bring “jam.”
At least if he does, no one has said so.
Whatever Ryan Lannon, Harvard’s senior defenseman, lacks in flash and spontaneity, he makes up for in substance—giving hell every day, harassing the nation’s best scorers.
That requires no testimony. But you’ll get it anyway.
“He’s kind of quiet, but he’s real intense,” freshman forward Jon Pelle said. “He’s a good guy to follow.”
“He’s real solid,” sophomore forward Ryan Maki said. “A great skater.”
“He works hard,” Justin Tobe, a sophomore goaltender, said. “Just a guy that the younger guys look up to.”
Hockey defensemen, save for scoring specialists like the NHL’s Rob Blake, rarely light up the lamps. Lannon, the blond-haired tough guy from Grafton, Mass., is no exception.
But a closer look at game scorecards shows plenty of Lannon fingerprints.
First, there’s the case of the remarkable plus/minus (+11) that ranked Lannon second among Harvard players—and first among Crimson defensemen—in 2003-04.
The stat is all the more impressive considering the current senior did not score a single goal.
Thus his strengths—“making the first pass, playing physical, and just showing some consistency on the defensive end,” according to Lannon’s own assessment—work perfectly on a team of talented scorers.
“He’ll do anything for the team,” fellow Harvard defenseman Dylan Reese said. “He’s a guy that fills the gap in anything we need at defense.”
“I’m probably not going to do too much flashy offensively,” Lannon said with a shrug. “But I’m comfortable with that by now.”
Reese, a sophomore and New York Rangers draft pick, said Lannon’s game is tailored for team play. And he enjoys reaping the benefits of playing alongside it.
“I think anyone would,” Reese said.
Another examination of game scorecards reveals Lannon’s profound effect on opposing offensive stars.
Last season, Harvard played Dartmouth in three games, once at each school’s rink and once in Albany, N.Y.
Stopping 6’6 Hugh Jessiman, one of the Big Green’s top scoring threats, was Lannon’s primary responsibility.
He came through.
“[Ryan] absolutely manhandled Hugh Jessiman,” sophomore Steve Mandes said.
In the three games, Jessiman, a first-round NHL pick, figured into only one scoring play—a tip-in on an early man advantage in November.
That was it.
“Gets the job done,” Mandes said.
As for this year? The assistant captain will share one of the nation’s stingiest defensive units with All-American Noah Welch, steady junior Peter Hafner, and Reese.
As a senior, Lannon will continue to lead by example.
“It’s scary, in a way, knowing that it’s your last year,” Lannon said. “But there’s also a little bit of excitement there, because you know it’s the last time.
“It’s the last time you have a conditioning test,” he said. “The last time you’re going to have this team meal with this team. The last time you’re going to have this initiation.”
Will it be the last time Lannon, with his accomplished class, wins the ECAC Championship? So far, prognosticators have picked against the Crimson.
Lannon, the scrappy veteran, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“People underestimate us, and I kind of like that,” he said. “I like the fact that we’re the underdogs coming in, because we have a lot to prove.”
Lannon doesn’t. Among the players, at least, Mr. Defense doesn’t have to score, talk, or even bring the “jam” to get attention.
He’s already got it.
—Staff writer Alex McPhillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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