Editor's Note: This article was written and used for the Dartmouth/Colgate-Cornell Game Program this past weekend at Thompson Arena.
“I’ve wanted to go to Dartmouth since I was in second grade.”
Nick Lovejoy was destined to wear the Green and White since he was a kid. Now, every day he takes to the ice at Thompson Arena, be it for a game or a practice, he is living out his childhood dream.
“I was a superfan when I was a little kid. I knew every player’s name on every team. I grew up wanting to play hockey at Dartmouth.
“When I had the opportunity presented to me as a sophomore in high school, I jumped at it. I didn’t look anywhere else, stopped the search and I don’t regret a thing,” he continued with the utmost seriousness in his voice.
The Orford, N.H., native attended games with his parents and brothers as far back as he can remember. Though he did eventually reach his goal of attending the College, Lovejoy’s path has been far from traditional and has not always been smooth.
As a sophomore, Lovejoy was not getting a substantial amount of playing time on a team that featured 10 seniors and a wealth of talent on the backend. So he made the tough choice to leave midway through the year, opting to play the remainder of 2011-12 with the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs.
“It was definitely a hard decision. Obviously, I wanted the team to know that I wasn’t in any way abandoning them, I just needed to go somewhere and get better as a hockey player so I could come back the next season and contribute,” Lovejoy said.
“The coaches were very understanding of that choice and told me my playing time was going to be limited, so with an off-term I needed to use, it was the perfect chance for me to take that step.”
Upon his return, Lovejoy battled to get in the lineup on a regular basis, but when he finally was a mainstay in the Big Green’s defensive rotation, a knee injury at Union ended his season prematurely.
This year, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound young man seemed poised to finally get back in the lineup. Another personal setback came in the form of a talented group of freshman defenders in addition to the returning veterans. Lovejoy was dressed for just one of the team’s first seven games, a disappointing start for the player his teammates refer to as ‘Lovey’.
That’s when a change came in the form of the dreaded summons to the coaches’ offices.
“Petes (associate coach Dave Peters) called me into his office early in the week and told me I was going to play forward that weekend at Princeton and Quinnipiac,” he recalled. “It’s hard, it’s different than how I’m used to playing as a defenseman. But I get to skate and use my strength, speed and size maybe more so than I do on defense. I am just trying to keep things simple, get pucks deep, hit people. If I can score, that’s just an added bonus.
And he did just that, in a big way as he broke through at the right time.
With the score knotted at 2-2 late in the second period at BU’s Agganis Arena, Lovejoy, playing forward for just the fourth time since sixth grade, was perfectly positioned to knock in a loose puck for the first goal of his career. That marker would stand up as the game winner and an unbelievable moment for the hard-working player who made the move to help his team.
“At this point in my career, I have somewhere in the neighborhood of eight weeks left as a hockey player and I will do anything to play. If that means make the move to forward, I am certainly willing to do that.”
With his parents a constant in the stands at nearly every Dartmouth game, their reaction after Nick’s game-winning goal must be a memory he’ll always remember.
“They were actually in the car because they thought it was going to snow and the postgame press conference took longer than expected. I called them on their way home and talked for a while,” he remarked with a smile. “I’m glad they were there to see it. I think my dad was by far the happiest person in the building that night. They’re unbelievable and I can’t thank them enough for all the support they’ve given me whether I’m in or out of the lineup. “
There is a family connection that surrounds Lovejoy and his time at Dartmouth. Not only are his parents at every game as they make the short drive from Orford, but Nick is now playing alongside his cousin Kyle Nickerson on the fourth line and saw him contribute greatly to that Wednesday night winner in Boston.
“I can’t take much credit for that goal. I was in the right place at the right time and my linemates did a pretty good job to win the draw and drive wide to make the play that I eventually tapped in. It was very cool to have Kyle get the primary assist on it.”
The younger brother of two professional athletes, Lovejoy is carving out his own path. His older brother Ben is a defenseman for the Anaheim Ducks and a former Big Green player himself, while middle brother Matt plays for Hamilton of Major League Lacrosse and won an NCAA title as a member of Virginia in 2011.
“I’ve watched the two of them for so many years be the best at what they do and they’ve been my role models my whole life. I can’t deny the fact that my two older brothers have been pro athletes and ‘masters’ of the sports they play and it’s been tough for me to shake that, but it also opens up doors. It’s given me the best concepts of what it takes to be a leader.”
Ready to enter the real world, Lovejoy has already accepted a job offer and will begin working in Stamford, Conn., in July, leaving New Hampshire for just the second time in his life after four years away at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for me to get into the working world and I attribute a lot of what I’ve learned the last four years here at Dartmouth into the type of person who is prepared to go out into that world and be a success.
“Before I came to Dartmouth, I was a hockey player. I thought I was going to play in the NHL and that was always my goal. That’s why you go play hockey at a school like Dartmouth. Struggling a little bit in terms of playing, those hardships have opened my eyes to everything this place has to offer someone like me,” he continued. “It’s not just trying to use this time to be a better hockey player anymore, but to use every opportunity Dartmouth has given me to grow and see everything it has to offer beyond the ice.”
by Pat Salvas