Troy Crema ’17 and Alex Jasiek ’19 collect ECAC accolades

by Jonathan Katzman | 2/6/17 2:15am

This past week, forwards Troy Crema ’17 and Alex Jasiek ’19 received honors from the Eastern College Athletic Conference as the Player of the Month and Player of the Week, respectively. Crema’s accolade is the third of his career after earning ECAC Player of the Week honors twice. Jasiek’s award marks the first of his young career with the Green and White. In addition to the ECAC honors, Crema has been selected as a nominee for the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the nation’s top collegiate men’s ice hockey player.

Crema’s stellar performance comes as the Big Green seeks to rise in the ECAC standings to secure home-ice advantage for the first round of the conference playoffs. Crema led all conference players with 13 points during the month of January, including eight goals, tied for most in the nation at that time. His team-leading 13 goals this season are already three more than the total in his first three seasons in Hanover, all while mentoring the team’s 11 freshman skaters. While Crema has earned a reputation for scoring timely goals — like game winners against then-No. 11 University of Michigan and conference foe Colgate University, and the game-tying tally against Brown University — Dartmouth’s come-from-behind victory at Cornell University on Jan. 28 brought out his best.

“I am just trying to do whatever I can to help the team win,” the Toronto, Canada native said. “The success is nice on a personal level, but ultimately I want to do the best I can for our team on and off the score sheet. We have a great group of guys who play really hard, and we try to bring our best every day.”

Crema’s performance against Cornell is the perfect example of a player doing it all to help the team. In an era in which a player’s value is measured in goals, Crema’s most significant contribution to Dartmouth’s victory may have been a second period face-off win, setting up the Cam Roth ’19 goal, which began the Big Green comeback. Crema picked up a few points later in the game, assisting on Jasiek’s game-tying and game-winning goals before adding an empty netter to seal the 4-2 victory against the then-No. 14 team in the nation.

Against Cornell, the Big Green started slow before finding its rhythm later in the game. It is a pattern that feels familiar to Big Green fans watching the 2016-2017 season. But to Crema, the team’s response to sluggish beginnings has been the most telling.

“Obviously we would like to be able to start stronger, and it’s unfortunate falling behind early, but I think it shows the character of our team,” he said. “We are not going to give up and are not going to let falling behind get to us when it happens.”

Crema’s Dartmouth career reflects his never-say-die attitude. After battling injuries during his first two collegiate seasons, the senior has finally come into his own and become one of the most dependable players in a Big Green uniform this year. He has made his presence felt in multiple facets of the game — especially Dartmouth’s red-hot power play unit, with the ability to play the point and backside positions — and his name will be called frequently during the Big Green’s final six regular-season games.

Jasiek, on the other hand, has been a spark plug for the Big Green this season. Entering the Cornell game with only one goal to his credit on the season, Jasiek had shown his hustle, aggression and passing skill.

At Cornell, however, Jasiek showcased a different side of his game, tallying the game-tying and game-winning goals on the power play in the third period just 62 seconds apart to cap Dartmouth’s come-from-behind victory. He collected an assist on Roth’s goal, earning himself a career-best three points in the game, and was also on the ice for the Crema empty-netter that sealed the win.

“You do not want to get down 2-0 to a team like Cornell particularly because you are playing in such a difficult environment,” said Jasiek, referencing Cornell’s Lynah Rink, which is considered one of the most hostile environments in college hockey. “After the first period, each line made the decision to pick up its work ethic because we were being outhustled. We worked very hard throughout the rest of the game and generated some well-deserved bounces.”

Jasiek’s performance on the power play at Cornell was partially the result of Dartmouth’s recent special teams improvements.

“We have really picked up our pace and put an emphasis on keeping our feet moving, always try to be one play ahead of our opponent,” Jasiek said. “We have adopted a shoot-first mentality, which has enhanced our production because we are playing to score and expect to score.”

With six regular season games to go, the Big Green hopes to improve its current eighth-place position in the ECAC standings. Dartmouth is 1-5 this season against its final six opponents — its sole win a 4-2 victory at Rensselaer Polytechnic University — but Jasiek believes that he and his teammates are physically prepared to finish the regular season on a high note.

“This year, we all feel stronger and more physically prepared to play each day,” Jasiek noted. “[First-year strength and conditioning coach Nate] Strah has brought so many new ideas to us, and we are now able to maintain an upbeat, consistent tempo throughout the game.”

With Crema and Jasiek performing well, Tim Shoup ’18, Carl Hesler ’18 and Kevin Neiley ’18 healthy, and netminder Devin Buffalo ’18 providing a solid backstop, the Big Green is ready to prove it can take care of business, as well as be giant-killers, as it prepares for a playoff run. A few repeats of the performance at Cornell will only help.