When asked about playing defense for the Damascus High School co-op ice hockey team, Reid Bibb doesn’t mince words.
“I don’t like playing defense,” said Bibb, a second-team All-State selection last season as a defenseman.
He’s a natural scoring forward — an offensive threat with aspirations of playing Division I hockey.
But the junior plays defense for Damascus because that’s where he’s needed most and it’s that unselfishness that’s made him a young leader on the team.
Bibb, who goes to school at Gaithersburg and plays for Damascus as part of its co-op program, has been playing hockey since he was 5 and was taught to skate by his mother, Christine.
Eleven years later, he’s one of the premier high school hockey players in Maryland and Damascus coach Dave Hockey thinks his potential could take him far.
“He’s one of the kids that I think really has the chance to make it into a [Division I] program and make an impact on a team,” Hockey said. “I think in his third year he’s really grown as a player. He’s more of a leader with the younger kids.”
And being a leader means playing a position you don’t want to play. Still, there are some positives.
Damascus uses just two defensive pairings, which means Bibb sees plenty of ice time. He also gets to set up the offense. But most importantly, he’s a stopgap to prevent any quick rushes up ice.
“I have to stay back and know that other players may not understand the game as much so, I have to cover up for them I guess,” he said. “I control most of the things going on. But I can still score from back there because players will stay back if I go up.”
The junior plays left wing for the Frederick Freeze Empire, a junior hockey program which travels in the Northeast playing in tournaments against some of the better players in the region.
Between playing for the Freeze and Damascus, Hockey has seen Bibb, who also plays lacrosse, improve quickly.
“He’s a lot more patient with the puck and is certainly much more of a leader than I’ve ever seen in the past,” Hockey said. “His shot is tremendous. He shot one in from behind the blue line [a line on the ice separating the offensive and neutral zones] once on a slapshot and his ability to make passes is unparalleled.”
This season Bibb has shown he can shut down the best. In a preseason tournament, Damascus played St. Mary’s Ryken and first-team All-State player Nathan Blondino (105 points, 76 goals last season).
When Bibb matched up with Blondino, the scoring champion was held pointless.
“I think he can matchup against anyone in the league,” Hockey said.
Bibb, however, viewed it just like any other opponent.
“He was a really good shot, but not that fast of a skater,” he said. “It just lets me know that I’m doing my job well if I’m shutting him down. And that I’m not a bad defensive player.”