Jason Bourgea: Everyone's Favorite Teammate
Editor's Note: This article was written and used for the Dartmouth/Princeton-Quinnipiac Game Program this past weekend at Thompson Arena.
There might not be a nicer guy in college hockey than the young man that wears No. 15 for the Dartmouth Big Green.
He is a genuinely nice guy that always has a smile on his face. He is polite, soft-spoken and is loved by teammates, coaches and staff.
And when getting in the lineup, he's proven himself a pretty good hockey player too.
Bourgea's name will not appear in the record books for scoring when he leaves Dartmouth, having netted just five goals and registering 12 career points coming into this final weekend. However, his contributions to the team have been immeasurable
A grinding player that is used to appearing on the team's fourth line, the South Burlington, Vt., native is the ultimate character guy, doing what he needs to do to provide the team with a spark through plays that might go unnoticed by anyone outside of the Big Green's bench.
After scoring twice and registering three points in the first four games of his sophomore campaign, Bourgea was sidelined after sustaining a boxing fracture to his left hand in a game at Clarkson's Cheel Arena on Nov. 12, 2010.
The game and injury stand out to Bourgea as he cited it as one of the more memorable moments in his Dartmouth career, albeit for the wrong reasons.
"That was an inopportune moment for me since I had a lot of confidence coming into my sophomore year and was playing really well before getting hurt," Bourgea said of the play two and a half years later. "I ended up breaking my hand and missing five weeks, which set me back in terms of being ready when I finally was healthy enough to play again.
"Ever since that hit, I have been a player that's had to make do with being in and out of the lineup."
Not the type of person to dwell on that career-altering moment, the 5-foot-8, 185-pound winger has put his head down and gone back to work, trying to do anything he can to help the team get better.
A selfless young man, when asked about his memories in a Big Green sweater, Bourgea also discussed a teammate's successes as one of his favorite personal moments.
"Last year, being able to play with Kyle Schussler at the end and be a part of his first games and first goal was something that sticks out to me about my own career," he said. "He was a guy that never really got to play, so when he was finally in the lineup at the end of the year, I was so happy to see him end his college career on a high note.
"Being a part of that in those games puts a lot of things into perspective."
Bourgea has not had to face the hardships of playing that Schussler did in his career, but his senior season has not been what he expected, having only suited up in six games to date in 2012-13.
However, when he does make the lineup, the senior from just an hour and a half up the road has been a catalyst for his Big Green teammates.
Killing penalties, solid two-way and physical play as well as a calm demeanor on the bench make his presence hard to overlook.
In crucial moments of last week's win over St. Lawrence, and with Dartmouth holding on to a one-goal lead late in the third period, there were Bourgea and his linemates, getting pucks deep and trying to hem the Saints in their own zone.
His willingness to sacrifice his body to block shots and get in passing lanes has been contagious this season as the team has adopted that attitude while killing penalties at a nearly unbelievable 90 percent success rate.
With the season winding down and his remaining time in a Big Green sweater growing shorter with each passing game, Bourgea is aware of the impending consequences of the league's tight postseason race that is before he and his teammates this weekend.
"Playing at Thompson is great. The atmosphere is truly awesome. I've seen it from the stands and I've seen it from ice level. There has been a wide range of experiences in that building and it's strange to potentially have it come to an end this weekend," he remarked of Dartmouth's immediate and uncertain playoff future.
"The final weekend is always going to be a concluding moment, but senior year never really feels like your senior year while you're in it. I sometimes think I could go back to my freshman dorm and everything would be normal again. Senior Night always a brings a sense of finality for everyone, but to have the Princeton game Friday and to play against the No. 1 team in the country the next day is really going to be something special for the five of us."
Even if things don't go quite the way he hopes they will, Jason Bourgea will still be the nicest person leaving the building Saturday night as he prepares for what's ahead for himself and his team.
by Pat Salvas