Know Your Bobcat – Chris Diver
Throughout the months of August and September, BismarckBobcats.com will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment features second-year defenseman Chris Diver.
Name: Chris Diver
Hometown: Wilmington, DE
Weight: 175 lbs.
2012-13 Team: Bismarck Bobcats & Wenatchee Wild
2012-13 Stats: 35 GP, 3 G, 13 A, 16 PTS, +8, 30 PIM, 1 PPG, 1 GWG
Favorite Actor: Matt Damon
Favorite NHL Player: Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Highlight of 2012-13: “When we were able to beat Wenatchee on the first day at the Robertson Cup was special to me; when a team trades you there’s always motivation to show them what they’re missing and it was even more fun to do so on such a big stage.”
After starting his first season in junior hockey with the West Division’s Wenatchee Wild, defenseman Chris Diver became a Bismarck Bobcat in early November when the Cats pulled the trigger on a trade with the Wild to bring the rookie to North Dakota.
“We had seen Chris when we played the Wild in our second home weekend,” noted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, “and we were impressed at his skill level and ability to move the puck.”
For Diver, who hails from Wilmington, the largest city in the state of Delaware and part of the seven million-person Philadelphia metropolitan area, moving to North Dakota was a bit of a culture shock.
“When I landed in Bismarck, I knew it was going to be an experience that was very different from living at home,” explained Diver, who played his midget hockey for Team Comcast in New Jersey. “In Delaware, I was 20 miles from Philadelphia and within a few hours’ drive of places like New York City, Boston, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.”
Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad, though, as Diver quickly discovered the perks that the Capital Region offered.
“Living in Bismarck is great because it’s got a city feel without being too big,” Diver added. “It’s tough to avoid that sort of big-city chaos out east, but it’s really nice to be able to not ever have to worry about that when I’m [in Bismarck/Mandan].”
The defender was able to make the transition on the ice because of familiarity between his coach in Wenatchee, Bliss Littler, and Sedevie—Littler coached Sedevie when he was a junior goalie in the AWHL in 2000-01.
“Coach Littler thinks highly of Coach Sedevie and even though the systems the two teams run were very different, I knew that the Bobcats had a great program from what Coach Littler had told me about them,” recalled Diver.
“Knowing I was coming to a respected franchise was really exciting and it was easy to make the move when the trade happened.”
Diver’s background as a defenseman is more of the offensive variety, having tallied seven points in 13 games with the Wild before the trade. When he arrived in Bismarck, however, he found himself in a much different system.
“With defensive leaders like Jeremy O’Keefe and Rory Vesel on the Bobcats, it was clear pretty quickly that the priority for our unit was our own end,” stated Diver. “Their leadership was evident pretty quickly: even in practice, if I went too deep on the rush they’d be on me to get back and protect our zone.”
That mentality was quick to rub off on the rookie, and it showed.
“We knew Chris had the talent to make things happen offensively, but things really took off when he bought in on the back end,” credited Bobcats assistant coach Garrett Roth, who managed the squad’s defense in 2012-13.
The blueliner credits the team’s leadership.
“Watching guys like Jeremy and Rory out there blocking shots every shift, it’s an attitude that spreads around to everybody,” pointed out Diver, “even to the forwards.”
By the end of the season, the Bobcats had the league’s second-best goals against average, surrendering a mere 2.33 opposition tallies per game.
But it wasn’t just the back end that improved for Diver in the new system.
“Knowing that the rest of the ‘D’ had my back if I jumped into the play gave me a lot of confidence in being creative out there,” assessed Diver. “Being back there with those guys really helped transform my game into more of a two-way role.”
To Your Health
Over the course of the season, Diver missed chunks of games to injuries, threatening to derail the progress he made as a Bobcat.
“It was frustrating, having to miss games when I was banged up,” admitted Diver. “Every time it felt like I had things going the right way, it seemed like something came up on the health front.
“The biggest thing was to not get too down about it; the best thing I could do was to keep working as hard as I could off the ice to not fall behind.”
Diver got back to full health in late February, which came as a great bit of good fortune for the Bobcats, who lost blueliner Sam Wolfe to both a separated shoulder and a concussion against Brookings on February 27.
“Getting Chris back was a huge lift for us in March,” related Roth. “We were worried we’d be down to five ‘D’ heading into the stretch run. Instead, Chris had been working hard while he was out and was able to step in and seamlessly contribute.”
That depth turned into necessity late in the playoffs when O’Keefe was lost for the season to a separated shoulder, increasing the responsibility of Diver. The rookie continued his season-long improvement by stepping up in the six games following O’Keefe’s injury: tallying a goal and an assist at the Robertson Cup Tournament and posting a tournament-best +4 rating in Frisco.
He’s been working hard during the offseason to make sure he can continue to improve and contribute in 2013-14.
“I’ve been training in Philadelphia with Filip Starzynski this summer, working on my strength and durability,” detailed Diver. “Working out with Filip is really fun because it’s very challenging; nobody trains harder than ‘Fil.’
“It’s exciting, too, because we push each other to be our best because we’re working toward the same goal: winning the Robertson Cup.”
Stay tuned to BismarckBobcats.com over the next month-plus as we take you in-depth with every player on the Training Camp Roster in preparation for the 2013-14 season. This week we will also feature Tyler Dunagan, Kenny Curtis and Anthony German.