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Hard Work Is His Best Asset, Barr None

By Kevin Beattie

Game Program, October 25, 2003

He was told he wasn't good enough to play Division I hockey. When he got to Troy, he played a little as a freshman but not as much his sophomore year. Instead of packing it in and heading back to Minnesota, he is now the reigning Most Valuable Player and a captain of one of the most storied college hockey programs in the nation. Who says hard work and perseverance aren't worth the effort?

"I had a couple people tell me that I might never play Division I hockey," Rensselaer senior forward Ben Barr said. "I knew I wasn't any overly talented player so coming in here I knew that I had a lot to work on if I wanted to play and be good." And work he did.

He saw limited ice time in the 32 games he played as a freshman, tallying four goals and four assists for eight points. He played even less in 2001-02, notching just two goals and five assists in 29 games. After a summer of dedicating himself to improving, Barr stood out last season, notching career-highs in goals (11), assists (13), points (24), power play goals (4) and game-winning goals (3). A solid two-way player, he also scored three shorthanded goals.

"It's frustrating when you don't play as much as you'd like to but when I look back on it now, I think experiences like that drive you to make you get better," the Faribault, Minn., native said. "It wasn't even so much my freshman year as it was sophomore year. I wasn't in real good shape. At the time I was real frustrated. Obviously I wanted to play but as I look back I realize that I probably shouldn't have been playing because I didn't put myself in a position to play. So, I think it actually helped me."

"After my sophomore year, I changed what I ate, did more running and lifting. I was in better shape than I had been."

With the individual improvements and additional playing time have come more responsibilities off the ice, such as serving as a co-captain with classmate Scott Basiuk. "It's not too much pressure," Barr said of his leadership role. "I definitely enjoy it but it is a lot more work."

As a leader of the team, he realizes that it is absolutely necessary to stay positive, despite the fact that the Engineers are off to a bit of a slow start. "You want to turn everything around in a snap of the fingers and that's not the way it's going to happen," he said. "It was hard for me to realize it and I think the guys know we are going in the right direction - whether our record shows it or not."

Barr, who was also awarded the Coaches Award last season, believes it's just a matter of keeping things simple and working your tail off in order to start seeing the wins add up. "You don't have to play flashy hockey, you just have to do the little things," he said. "Don't make it easy for them to score. Don't make it easy for them to win."

"When you look at the games so far this year, we beat ourselves in two of them, making mistakes that we probably shouldn't," he said. "They had more desire than us. That's really the difference in a lot of games. It's just whether who's going to pay the price to score that extra goal or make that extra play. I don't see any reason for us to ever be outworked."