One-on-One with Carl Hesler '18
After receiving the Booma Award as the men’s hockey team’s rookie of the year two years ago and the Manser Award as the team’s most improved player last year, Carl Hesler ’18 received perhaps one of the biggest honors of his athletic career: being named the 118th team captain in the program’s history.
This week, Jonathan Katzman ’17 sat down with Hesler to discuss his new role, this season’s goals and the team’s first games against Harvard University and the University of Michigan at the end of this month.
To start things out, how will it feel to wear the “C” on your jersey, particularly as a junior?
CH: It’s an incredible honor. We have had so many great players wear it in the past who are great guys. For my coaches and teammates to pick me for that honor is incredible, and I am going to do my best to uphold that and keep what the past captains have started.
Have you spoken to and gotten any advice from past captains Tyler Sikura ’15 and Brad Schierhorn ’16?
CH: Yes, I have actually talked with them a lot. They are two of my really good friends. They are both similar to me because they are not the loudest guys but tend to lead by example on and off the ice. Their main advice for me was just to keep being myself.
How has preseason gone for the team so far?
CH: It has been great; I think we look really good. All 11 freshmen look like they can contribute right away. They are really good players and we are looking forward to having them. It looks like we are starting where we left off last season, looking strong, and the coaches are happy at the moment.
A recent poll predicted Dartmouth will finish ninth in the ECAC this year following the loss of 10 seniors, including forwards Jack Barre ’16 and Brett Patterson ’16 as well as Charles Grant ’16, who was stellar down the stretch. What is the attitude going into this season?
CH: The attitude is that we got picked ninth again, and we are going to play with a chip on our shoulder like last year and try to prove other teams and the polls wrong, and make it back to Lake Placid. Hopefully we’ll have better fortune there, run for the ECAC championship and more. I think we have the potential to do that, and if we peak at the right time, anything can happen.
What brand of hockey can fans expect from Dartmouth this year?
CH: We are always a really hard working team. We are not always the biggest team and will not be this year. We always just wear teams down; we are very fast, physical, and have many skilled players. Not that we are labeled as a skilled team, but we have a good amount of skill and playmaking ability front and back.
With 11 incoming freshmen and only 10 upperclassmen, it is safe to say the Big Green features a young team. How have you displayed your leadership toward the younger players on the team in order to get them acclimated to college hockey, as well as toward the squad in general?
CH: I think it is important to display leadership right away. The assistant captains, Josh Hartley ’17 and Grant Opperman ’17, have been an unbelievable help. They are great guys and have just as big of a leadership role as I have. We just communicated really well and got to know all of the freshmen early on by doing things like showing them around campus; it was not necessarily all on the ice. I think that getting to know individuals early on is key and everybody seems very close so far.
The team plays Michigan, the preseason #11, at home on Oct. 29. Last year, you played a two-game series at Michigan and lost the first game, 7-0, before tying the Wolverines, 1-1, in overtime. Is there a certain excitement that the group has playing a Big Ten team early in the season?
CH: Definitely. There will be a lot of buzz and excitement around it because it is homecoming weekend. Last year, we played them very hard in the second game in front of a sold out crowd. We are hoping for the same environment this year, and hopefully we can catch Michigan off guard and get off to a strong run. It will be a crazy game, and we will need the fans to be loud.
What are the top three things the team is focusing on?
CH: First is consistency. Last year, we were very consistent in the second half of the year, which led to the amazing run we had, capped by the series at Yale. Next, just get off to a better start. We lost to Harvard in our opener, 7-0, and got off to a rough start against them. The games after that were not much better. We need to get off to a better start and be ready when Michigan comes here. Last is good chemistry. We made it far because everybody was playing for each other. Everyone was very good friends on the team. If we could have that again, it would be incredible and we could make an even better run.
Talk about playing in the ECAC: there are four teams in the conference currently in the NCAA’s preseason top 20 poll, with three others, including Dartmouth, receiving votes. Describe the challenges of playing top tier competition week in and week out. What do you anticipate Coach Gaudet’s message will be throughout the season?
CH: There are no games off, absolutely none. If you do not come to play one night, whether that would be against Quinnipac or Princeton, you will lose. We have battles with every team and every game is close, and I love that each team you play is amongst the best in the country. It is what we dream about and makes for an exciting season.
What would you like to see the team accomplish this coming season?
CH: First, we want to win an ECAC Championship and earn a bid for the national tournament. I know this hasn’t happened for a while, so it would be cool to create history there and generate a buzz around hockey at Dartmouth, which I think there should be.
This article has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.