Salsberry Prep

Know Your Bobcat – Tanner Salsberry

Throughout the months of August and September, will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment features Bobcat rookie defenseman Tanner Salsberry.

Name: Tanner Salsberry

Position: Defenseman

Hometown: Cypress, TX

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 190 lbs.

2012-13 Team: Chicago Fury U18

2012-13 Stats: 38 GP, 5 G, 8 A, 13 PTS, 48 PIM

Favorite Music Genres: Country, Electric Dance

Favorite Activity: Hanging out with family and friends

Highlight of 2012-13: “In a game against the Colorado Rampage, they were on the breakout and the winger sent the center a hospital pass. I read it and stepped up and leveled the kid at center ice; [Bobcats Assistant] Coach Roth was in the stands scouting for that, too.”

My Kind of Town

Though Tanner Salsberry’s family now lives in the Houston suburb of Cypress, Tex., the rookie Bismarck Bobcats defender originally hails from the southwest Chicago suburb of Plainfield.

Being a native Chicagoan, Salsberry’s career trajectory has been slightly different than players who grew up further west.

“There are a ton of great midget programs in the Great Lakes region, so high school doesn’t end up being much of an option for top-end players,” assessed Salsberry, who played his AAA hockey with the Chicago Fury in nearby Orland Park. “It’s not the same as in places like North Dakota and Minnesota, where in most cases you know where you’re going to play when you’re 16, 17, 18 years old based just on where you live and where you grow up.”

The Windy City has quite the AAA hockey scene, including the Fury, the Chicago Young Americans, the Chicago Mission and Team Illinois.

Salsberry spent three seasons with the Fury, totaling 10 goals and 24 assists in 115 games between midget major and midget minor.

A major advantage he gained by playing in the Midwest Elite Hockey League, also known as the Tier 1 Elite League, is playing the extended schedule of 38-40 regular season games plus showcases, which regularly adds up to 60 games—the same length of an NAHL regular season.

“A long season can be a grind. The first time you go up against it, such a long schedule is tough to battle through,” stated Salsberry. “I think having a few years of seasons like that under my belt will have me in a good spot to be at the top of my game when guys fresh out of high school will be in those dog days after Christmas.”

Get Physical

Tanner Salsberry would never be confused with a smaller defenseman.

The rookie defender knows his 5’11”, 190 pound frame is an asset coming into his first year of juniors.

“I love to be physical,” grinned the blueliner. “Lining guys up in open ice or on the wall is one of my favorite things to do. If I had to choose between sending a guy end-over-end with a hip check or getting a point, I’ll take the open-ice ‘hipper’ every time.”

That’s not to say that Salsberry doesn’t enjoy helping produce offense.

“When I get out there on the power play, I like to line up big slap shots through traffic,” he explained.

Not so coincidentally, getting shots to the net from the point has been a cornerstone for the Bobcats’ power play for quite some time.

“You look back to my first year on the bench (2009-10) and you had Sammy Rendle putting up huge points as a power play quarterback,” detailed Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “After that you’ve got Donald Olivieri and then Matt Pohlkamp and Nate Repensky. Having that presence on the blue line on the ‘PP’ is a huge part of our game.”

On the other side of things, Salsberry also sees how his size can hold him back and has been working to address that.

“Being a bigger ‘D’, there are times where my conditioning and my speed will suffer,” he added. “But that’s what so great about coming to be a part of Bobcat Hockey: ‘Hell Week’ and the training program can help me be in top physical shape and even cut some weight to get lighter and faster.”

Sound and Fury

Since all-time franchise leading scorer Garrett Roth came to the Bobcats as assistant coach in the summer of 2012, a bit of a pipeline has opened up between the Cats and the Chicago Fury: the Bobcats selected Fury forwards Evan Giesler and Jon Losurdo in the 2012 NAHL Entry Draft, then either tendered or drafted Fury products Salsberry, Jeremy Norway, Connor Kelly, Jared Dedenbach and Garrett Brossart during the 2013 offseason.

“I have a lot of respect for the Fury program and the way they develop players,” submitted Roth, who hails from the northern Chicago suburb of Cary, Ill., himself. “We know that when we draft or tender a guy from the Fury that we’re getting a well-coached, hard-working kind of player that will work well inside of our system.”

A recent Bobcat success story from the Fury has been Evan Giesler, who worked his way into a regular role late in the Cats’ 2012-13 run and is in a position to be a veteran leader on the current installment of the black and gold.

“I value my time with the Fury because they’re a successful, winning program with a high quality training program, similar to the one we have here with the Bobcats,” shared Giesler, who notched seven points in the Cats’ final 10 regular season games before a point-per-game average in the 2013 Robertson Cup Playoffs. “Playing there really helped prepare all of us for junior hockey.”

Having that level of comfort between the two franchises was a big contributing factor for the big blueliner to sign a tender agreement for 2013.

“It’s great to be able to come to a program that values and appreciates Chicago hockey players,” lauded Salsberry, “and to be able to be a part of a team with a number of guys like Evan and Connor and Jeremy that I either played with or have come through the same situation I have.

“It’s a real luxury to be able to get on the same page from the start with your teammates and start working right away toward that Robertson Cup.”

Stay tuned to 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’ll also sit down with Brendan Harris, Mathias Ahman, Blake Busch, Ian Ecklund, Jeremy Norway and Will Pavek.