With each new season, there is reason for optimism amongst the Dartmouth men's hockey coaches. An injection of new faces brings promise to a team that feels it's on the verge of taking the next step and elevating its game to an elite level.
The 2012-13 incarnation of the Big Green will look to build on what was a
strong finish to last season as they continue their climb back to the
top of the ECAC Hockey standings.
A young team comprised of 18 underclassmen and just five players from
each of the junior and senior classes might have some outsiders looking
at Dartmouth as more of a dark horse this season, but that is nothing
new for head coach Bob Gaudet.
"Even though the team is young, we are extremely excited about who we
have, those returning and those making their first appearances in
Hanover," Gaudet said. "We've got players like Dustin Walsh (Shannonville, Ontario) coming back from injury that had him sidelined nearly all of last season, plus the return of Matt Lindblad (Winnetka, Ill.) who can be one of the top players in all of college hockey when he's healthy.
"Last year we saw a lot of those younger players like Eric Robinson (Foxborough, Mass.) have breakout seasons so we know that those freshmen and sophomores can have a big impact," Gaudet added.
Returning: 11 - Jesse Beamish (So.), Jason Bourgea (Sr.), Mark Goggin (Sr.), Alex Goodship (Sr.), Matt Lindblad (Jr.), Brandon McNally (So.), Charlie Mosey (So.), Eric Neiley (So.), Eric Robinson (Jr.), Tyler Sikura (So.), Dustin Walsh (Sr.)
Newcomers: 5 - Jack Barre, Nick Bligh, Connor Dempsey, Tim O'Brien, Brett Patterson, Brad Schierhorn,
If ever there was a place where youth made an immediate impression it
was at the forward position in 2011-12. A young, but talented core of
skilled wings and centers are back for the Big Green this season in
addition to a talented group of five players ready to step right into
the lineup and contribute on a nightly basis.
Robinson's breakout campaign as a sophomore was highlighted by a
team-leading 12 goals, four times as many as he posted his freshman
year. Now a sophomore, Brandon McNally
(Saugus, Mass.) and his 10 goals against ECAC Hockey competition (good
to lead the league) will no longer fly under the radar as his talents
were on full display in the final two months of the season.
Gaudet is not exaggerating when he talks about the elite talent set
possessed by both Walsh and Lindblad. Two of the most skilled players in
the conference, healthy campaigns from both in 2012-13 should result in
huge numbers on the stat sheets and more 'W's' on the schedule. Despite
missing a number of games last season Lindblad still proved a valuable
asset, leading the team with 18 assists. When not forced to the stands,
Walsh could challenge for a league scoring crown and major year-end
accolades, a fact he demonstrated last winter when he was on pace for a
40-point season before being injured.
Sophomore Tyler Sikura
(Aurora, Ontario) tied for the team lead in points as a freshman,
finishing the year with 25 on 11 goals and 14 assists. His skill set and
clutch timing (leading the team in game-winning goals) should play an
even larger role in 2012-13 as he continues to develop at the collegiate
A senior trio of Jason Bourgea (South Burlington, Vt.), Alex Goodship (Blackfalds, Alberta) and Mark Goggin
(Glen Ellyn, Ill.) add not only a gritty style of play to the Dartmouth
attack, but also a veteran presence and high levels of in-game
Charlie Mosey (Prior Lake, Minn.) and Eric Neiley
(Warminster, Pa.) proved as freshmen last year that they could fill
nearly every role in the Big Green's lineup and have made great strides
in the offseason to get stronger. Working closely with head strength and
conditioning coach Bob Miller
in the weight room, Mosey and Neiley have taken the opportunity, like
many of their teammates, to build on the personal successes of last
season to get better.
The incoming players have great pedigree on paper, but it will be on the
ice of Thompson Arena this preseason where they will have to prove to
the coaching staff that they can crack an incredibly talented lineup.
Jack Barre (Fairfield, Conn.), Nick Bligh (Milton, Mass.), Connor Dempsey (Winthrop, Mass.), Tim O'Brien (Winnetka, Ill.), Brett Patterson (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Brad Schierhorn
(Anchorage, Alaska) make up that group of newcomers that bring with
them a variety of juniors experience from across North America.
"There's great depth and really good skill level up front this season,"
Gaudet said. "Those guys that we have coming back all really had good
seasons for us last year and then we add five rookies to the mix that we
were very happy to have come to Hanover. The forward position is one
that this staff feels will be a great strength for us as we get going."
Returning: 6 - Taylor Boldt (Jr.), Billy Fitzgerald (So.), Mike Keenan (Sr.), Nick Lovejoy (Jr.), Rick Pinkston (So.), Andy Simpson (So.)
Newcomers: 2 - Ryan Bullock, Geoff Ferguson
Eight players will compete for six defensive spots on the line chart
each week. If the adage of 'defense wins championships' holds true,
then the depth of the Dartmouth blueline will be a major factor in
Senior and second-year captain Mike Keenan
(South Weymouth, Mass.) will once again anchor the Big Green's back-end
grouping. A solid defender in his own zone with good awareness and the
ever-important aspect of physical play to his game, Keenan should
match-up regularly against opponents' top forward lines.
The only senior defenseman, Keenan will need the help of juniors Taylor Boldt (Niwot, Colo.) and Nick Lovejoy
(Orford, N.H.) on the blueline to bring a stabilizing veteran presence
to the position. Boldt is a player that thrives on doing the little
things in the defensive zone the right way. A smart, stay-at-home kind
of player, Boldt has an incredibly high hockey IQ when it comes to how
to play his own position.
Lovejoy returns to the Big Green after playing most of last season with
the N.H. Junior Monarchs. One of the strongest players on the team, his
work ethic away from the rink, coupled with a great deal of ice time
earned last year in Hooksett should make Lovejoy a valuable commodity
The sophomore duo of Rick Pinkston (Trenton, Mich.) and Andy Simpson
(Chesterfield, Mo.) were one of the top rookie d-pairings in ECAC
Hockey last winter. The two gelled in their first season in Hanover,
playing a majority of the season together as they developed at this
level alongside one another. Pinkston was a constant in the lineup as a
first-year player before an arm injury in the postseason opener
sidelined him for the Cornell series. Simpson came on strong midway
through the winter and paired with Pinkston to form one of the league's
most talented underclassmen duos in the final months.
(Milton, Mass.) is the third sophomore defenseman on the roster and
will be in the mix for action after a freshman year in which he did not
suit up for the Big Green.
Freshmen Ryan Bullock (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Geoff Ferguson
(Hanwell, New Brunswick) come to Dartmouth as highly-touted juniors
players from the USHL. Both have solid shots and can contribute at both
ends of the ice for their new team.
"Much like the forwards, the young defensemen came along pretty well
last season," the head coach remarked. "Obviously when you lose some
guys you're going to have to re-shuffle some pairings the following
season, but we feel like we have a very good group of guys back there
that should have no problem doing their jobs well on a nightly basis."
Returning: 1 - Cab Morris (Jr.)
Newcomers: 2 - Charles Grant, James Kruger
Perhaps the most important position in hockey, if not in all of sports,
is the goaltender. Dartmouth will enter the season with just seven
games of collegiate experience in that position as Cab Morris (Wilmette, Ill.) is the lone returning netminder from a season ago.
Having played just one game as a freshman, Morris made a large
contribution to the Big Green midway through last season, winning ECAC
Hockey Goaltender of the Month honors for December along the way.
Posting a 3-2-1 record in six starts, Morris demonstrated to the
coaching staff and the league that he was ready to take the next step
once decorated players Jody O'Neill and James Mello graduated.
Following in the mold set by Morris (6-4, 200 lbs.), the two freshmen goalies this season are big. Charles Grant (Berwick, Nova Scotia) and James Kruger
(Minnetonka, Minn.) give the Big Green a big presence in the goal
crease this season. Grant is a 190-pound, 6-foot-2 goalie, while Kruger
comes to Dartmouth a healthy 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds.
Both very good goalies in juniors, Kruger and Grant should complement
Morris well as the season progresses and the spotlight falls on the
position nearing the stretch run.
"There are going to be people who look at our goaltending situation and
have questions, but that's fine because we know what we have back there
and are very excited about it," Gaudet commented. "Cab came on very
strong last season when he was called upon to come in and play for our
team. His development last winter was tremendous.
"Charles and James should come in and challenge right away for time
which I think is a great testament to how well Associate Head Coach Dave Peters and Assistant Coach John Rose
recruit. They both have great eyes for spotting talent and players that
have tremendous upsides that others may not see and I think that our
goalies this season will reflect that."
To be the best, you must make sure you play the best competition to hone
your team's talent. Gaudet has made sure that Dartmouth will face off
against the top teams in the nation this season, scheduling a grueling
non-conference slate that should prepare the Big Green for when the
rubber meets the road in the stretch run against ECAC Hockey
A road game against defending national champion Boston College in
November is a great test for a young team with loads of talent. However,
an earlier meeting at Thompson Arena with Union means that the contest
with the Eagles will be the second against a team that made the Frozen
Four last spring.
New Hampshire, UMass and Bemidji State make up a solid 2012 Ledyard
Classic the final weekend of December. Other non-conference home games
against Vermont and Bentley should keep fans of the Green and White
excited in the winter months.
The ECAC Hockey and Ivy League slate will feature a familiar set of foes
this season as Brown, Yale, RPI, Union, Harvard, St. Lawrence,
Clarkson, Cornell, Colgate, Quinnipiac and Princeton will make their way
to Thompson this year. The 2012 Ivy League Shootout will kick off the
regular season and be held in Providence at Brown's Meehan Auditorium in