CEDAR RAPIDS - It was by chance that Ian Brady became a defenseman.
The third-year Cedar Rapids RoughRider played a lot of forward growing up in the Chicago suburbs. One weekend tournament with his Midget team about four years ago changed all that.
“I was playing forward one game, and one of our defensemen got hurt," Brady said. "We were down to, like, four ‘D,’ so I ended up playing defense the rest of the tournament. I just ended up staying there.”
So that explains why Brady is considered an offensive defenseman. He's a skilled guy who plays a lot on the power play.
The RoughRiders open the 2012-13 season Saturday night at Green Bay.
“I think that part of my game has progressed, but I’ve always been an offensive player," Brady said. “I like playing defense because I can see the entire ice. The play is always in front of me. I like that.”
Brady, 18, wasn't much of a factor for the Riders two seasons ago, but played in 55 games last season, notching five goals and 21 assists. He also was named to the USHL's top prospect game.
The Nebraska-Omaha commit hopes to take the next step in his development in his third year in the league. He and Blake Butzow are the only two returning defensemen or goaltenders for Cedar Rapids, so they'll be leaned on a lot, particularly early in the season.
“Really, the most important with him is to lead by example. Play the way we want to play, do the things that are important," said RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson. “Defense is a tough position. I think he showed some real good improvement last year, from that first year to his second year. I think we’ll see that same progression in his third year.”
Brady is counting on it.
“When I committed to Nebraska-Omaha, they said they wanted me to come in next year, so being here three years has been set from day one, pretty much," he said. “Two years ago, I was just getting familiar with the league. I think that helped me last year. I played a good amount, 55 games. This year, I think I’ll probably be a big part of helping the team because I’ve got the most experience out of everyone. I’m just trying to teach the other kids.
"Guys like Paulie O’Connor and Clark Kuster, they’re young guys. So I’m just trying to show them the way things are supposed to be run around here. That’s why I think me and Blake are big for this team right now.”
Last year's captain was third-year player Stu Wilson, so you'd have to think Brady has a good chance of being this year's team captain. Or at least an assistant.
He seems to be looking forward to to a leadership role.
“Helping the younger guys, helping them grow," he said. " I think my footwork could probably be better. Just my overall game I want to improve.”