By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON – For most of the current season, team defense has been a strong point for the Muskegon Lumberjacks.LSJ Logo incert

And nobody has played a bigger role in the defensive effort than Bo Hanson, a second-year Lumberjack from Boise, Idaho who has made major strides in his game this season.

”I worked hard this offseason and gained 10 pounds to become bigger, faster and stronger,” said Hanson, whose team will play a home-and-home series this weekend against Bloomington – Friday on the road and Saturday at home.

Bo Hansen


“The end result has made me more confident, which allowed me to become more comfortable in the league than I was last season.”

Hanson’s hard work paid off when he was named to play in the upcoming USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, slated for Jan. 12 at Ralston Arena in Omaha.

Joining Hansen will be three first-year Lumberjack defensemen – Zach Berzolla, Derek Daschke, Mitch Eliot – along with forward Rem Pitlick, the Jacks’ leading scorer.

The USHL’s Top 40 draft-eligible players will be compete in the All-Star style event.

“It’s a great honor,” Hanson told Local Sports Journal. “My family and I are very excited and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Lumberjacks coach Todd Krygier has watched Hanson develop his game since he walked through the doors of the L.C. Walker Arena two summers ago.

“Bo is a defensive defenseman who defends well against the other team’s top players,” Krygier said. “He continues to improve and get better each week through his hard work on and off the ice.”

Krygier said he wasn’t surprised that Hanson or the other players made the Top Prospects Game.

“I expected all those guys to make it, and I was very disappointed (Lumberjacks forward) Collin Adams didn’t get selected because he belongs in that game above some other players who were selected,” the coach said.

While the Top Prospects Game will allow the Lumberjacks’ defensemen to shine, the more urgent concern will be bringing their play back up to par in regular-season games.

The Lumberjacks have surrendered leads in their past three games, including one against the Team USA Under-17 squad in which they gave up two three-goal leads and lost 7-4.

“We have to continue to work hard and bare down defensively,” Hanson said. “As a unit, we feel we are a key to the team’s success the remainder of the season.

“We came out of the holiday break not as focused as we were before the break, but we need to get it together to gain some crucial points to move up in the Eastern Conference standings.”

Hanson has been enjoying the rare opportunity of sharing his success with his parents.

In a league where the vast majority of players leave home for the first time and rarely see their families, Hanson gets to go home every night.

That’s because his parents decided last season to move to Muskegon from Bo’s hometown of Boise, Idaho.

“It is great to have them around,” Hanson said. “They are big role models in my life, I can talk about anything to them. And you can’t beat the home cooking.”

Hanson has experienced life without his folks. He played in lower leagues in Texas and Colorado in his freshman and sophomore years of high school, and he’s happy to have the best of both worlds now.

“We hardly ever had a home-cooked meal or ate as a family,” Hanson said about his time away from home. “We were responsible for making our own breakfast and lunches.

“My parents decided they wanted to be a part of my life during this important stage,” said Hanson. “So it was a no-brainer for them to move to Muskegon.”

Hanson is still currently waiting to make a college commitment, and in the meantime, is planning on returning to Muskegon next season for a third year with the Lumberjacks.