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Big Green Set to Add Five For 2013-14 Season

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By Mark Washburn
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HANOVER, N.H. – Head coach Bob Gaudet has announced the addition of five incoming student-athletes to the Dartmouth men’s hockey roster for the upcoming 2013-14 season.

Three forwards and two defensemen will make up the Class of 2017 set to join the Big Green this fall. Grant Opperman, Kyle Nickerson and Troy Crema will comprise the three players who will join the core of forwards, while Brandon Kirk and Josh Hartley will be the two additions to the Dartmouth blueliners.

“Associate head coach Dave Peters and assistant coach John Rose did a great job of bringing in another group of talented student-athletes to our program,” Gaudet said. “They are not only skilled players, but also the kind of individuals we like to add to our team and community as they display great character.

"We expect them to make the transition to the college game very quickly and we look forward to the unique contributions that each will bring to Dartmouth College and our program,” Gaudet added. 

Grant Opperman - #14
6-0 - 185
F - Tri-City Storm (USHL)
Wayzata, Minn.

Opperman played three seasons of high school hockey in Minnesota before making the jump to the USHL and the Tri-City Storm for parts of the last two years. During his high school career at the Breck School, he registered 85 goals and 109 assists for 194 points in just 113 games. In 58 games for Tri-City, Opperman accumulated 30 points on 13 goals and 17 assists, including a line of 12-15—27 in 48 games during the 2012-13 campaign.

The Coaching Staff Says: “One of the top players in Minnesota, Grant is a forward who has the ability to score goals and generate offense. He was one of the state’s leading scorers with 33 goals and 45 assists for 78 points. Grant was a finalist for the prestigious Mr. Hockey Award given annually to the best high school hockey player in the state of Minnesota.  He has been recovering from a knee injury this season, but still managed to play in 46 games and contribute offensively.”

Kyle Nickerson - #29
5-9 - 160
F – Boston Junior Bruins (EJHL)
Weston, Mass.

In two seasons with the Junior Bruins, Nickerson proved to be a valuable member of the team as both its captain and one of its top offensive talents. After scoring four goals and adding 15 assists for 19 points in his first season with the team, Nickerson set new marks in 2012-13 with 32 points on 12 goals and 20 assists.

The Coaching Staff Says: “Kyle is an excellent two-way player with great sense and the ability to make players around him better. He was one of the top scorers in midget hockey playing for the Boston Advantage two seasons ago. In his second season with the Junior Bruins, he has emerged as one of the top all-round players in the league.”

Troy Crema - #9
5-10 - 175
F - Hamilton Red Wings (OJHL)
Toronto, Ontario

Crema will make the jump to Dartmouth after two seasons in the OJHL. In his final year in the league and his only season with Hamilton, Crema posted career highs of 61 points, 24 goals and 37 assists, surpassing his numbers from his time in Brampton in 2011-12 (15-24—39).

The Coaching Staff Says: “Troy is an outstanding offensive player. He is a very good skater, a great puck handler and has tremendous offensive instincts. He was the leading scorer on his junior team last year and is one of the top forwards in Ontario. His numbers this past season reflect the type of offensive talent he is capable of displaying on a regular basis.”

Brandon Kirk - #27
6-1 - 195
D - Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
LaVerne, Calif.

A native of California, Kirk is another big defenseman to join the team. His 6-foot-1 frame has displayed a physical presence the last two seasons for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL as he amassed 181 PIMs in 94 games. Although size and skill set make him a solid player in his own end, Kirk has not been afraid to contribute in the offensive zone as he has registered 25 points the last two seasons on six goals and 19 assists. In two USHL seasons, Kirk posted a rating of +33, including a +29 in 53 games played in 2011-12.

The Coaching Staff Says: “Brandon is one of the top all-around defensemen in junior hockey.  He helped lead the Green Bay Gamblers to the USHL Championship last season. He is very physical and tough to play against. Brandon is a good skater who can move the puck out of the zone and contribute to the offense as well. This season, he has four goals and nine assists for 13 points in 40 games.”

Josh Hartley - #3
6-2 - 195
D - Wenatchee Wild (NAHL)
Coquitlam, British Columbia

Hartley comes to Dartmouth after putting together one of the best three-year careers by a defenseman in NAHL history. In 2012-13, Hartley led all defensemen in scoring with 43 points and assists with 34, earning first team all-league honors as a member of the Wenatchee Wild. In addition to his all-league honors, Hartley was tabbed as the 2012-13 NAHL Defenseman of the Year. Prior to his time with the Wild, Hartley was a two-year member of the Dawson Creek Rage, playing in 112 games. During his time in the NAHL, Hartley registered 25 goals and 70 assists for 95 points, while accumulating 204 PIMs and posting a rating of +6.

The Coaching Staff Says: “Josh is an excellent offensive defenseman. He is the top-scoring defenseman in the North American Hockey League. He is very skilled and has outstanding hockey sense. Josh is a good skater who can move the puck out of the zone, while also playing a physical game in his own end.”