Eric Sweetman will be back on the Boise blue line in October, looking for an encore performance following a stellar rookie season. Sweetman was a go-to guy in all situations in his first pro season, his value to the organization known long before he was given the team’s Defenseman of the Year award in April. What marks will he need to meet to match his first-year success?
Let’s check out the numbers from “Sweets”:
22 – Eric Sweetman proved himself as a dynamic two-way defender during his rookie season, finishing with a plus-22 rating to rank tied for second among rookie defensemen and tied for ninth among defensemen league-wide. Making his rating more impressive is the fact that he was just plus-1 through his first 25 games. One of Sweetman’s best runs was a stretch of 12 games from December 30th to January 31st, a month in which he went plus-15 and never posted a minus rating.
13 – Sweetman also proved his defensive game could be strong away from home. He was a plus-13 on the road in 2017-18, along with four goals and 11 assists.
10 – Sweetman’s ten goals, all scored after New Year’s Day, represented one of the best offensive surges of any defenseman in the ECHL. It was also the most goals by a Steelheads rookie defenseman in the ECHL era, and tied for the most by a rookie defenseman in franchise history with Andrei Lupandin (ten goals, 1999-00).
11 – When you get pucks to the net, good things happen for a defenseman. Sweetman fired the fifth-highest total on the team and the most among Idaho defensemenwith 171. On 11 occasions, Sweetman fired five shots or more in a game, including in three consecutive games from March 7th to 10th when he generated 17 shots on goal. Only All-Rookie defenseman Aaron Irving of the Kalamazoo Wings got more pucks on net last season among rookie blue-liners.
7 – The Colorado Eagles leave the ECHL for the AHL next season, and they likely won’t miss facing Eric Sweetman. Sweetman totaled three goals and seven points in ten games against the Eagles last season, not to mention a plus-3 rating. The first-year defender put up more points against the eventual Kelly Cup champions than he did against any other opponent.
65 – Sweetman played in 65 games this season, matching Travis Walsh’s 65 games played in 2016-17. That pair’s 65 games in a season were the most played by Steelheads rookie defensemen since the 2010-11 campaign, when Tyler Ludwig played 70.