Men's hockey ready for title defense, NCAA tourney run in 06-07
"Our expectations are very high for this year's team," said captain Tanner Glass '07, who described the elected leadership position as a "huge honor."
"We have a relatively old team that has narrowly missed the NCAA tournament the last three seasons, so this year we're focused on playing each game like it's our last. That being said, this is a brand new team that is going to have to find its identity in the early going."
Under 2005-06 ECACHL Coach of the Year Bob Gaudet '81, the 2006-07 Big Green will get a chance to exact some revenge when the Crimson visits Thompson Arena for Dartmouth's season opener at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27. Dartmouth checks in ranked third and fourth in the ECACHL media and coaches' preseason poll, respectively, and 18th in the USCHO.com/CSTV poll.
"I don't think that our league gets enough credit on the national stage, but it's up to us to go out and prove that we deserve to be considered among the best in the nation every night," Glass said.
Dartmouth lost several players to graduation after last season, led by 2005-06 captain and center Mike Ouellette '06. Following the season, Ouellette was named ECACHL Best Defensive Forward, a New England All-Star, First Team All-ECACHL, Academic ALL-ECACHL, First Team All-Ivy, Second Team All-America and Ivy League Player of the Year.
Despite the holes the Class of 2006 left in the top forward lines, the Big Green has plenty of returning talent to help replicate last year's offensive production, which tallied 113 goals to lead the ECACHL.
Assistant captain David Jones '08, a consensus preseason All-League choice, led the squad in goals scored last year with 17, and racked up 34 points overall in 33 games, good enough for third in the ECACHL. Jones garnered First Team All-Ivy, Second Team All-ECACHL and Academic All-ECACHL for his efforts in 2005-06.
Glass had his best statistical season a year ago, recording 28 points to lead the junior class in scoring and besting his combined point total from his first two seasons. Honorable Mention All-Ivy Nick Johnson '08 should also look to contribute after tallying 15 goals, second-best on the Big Green and tops on the squad with four game-winning tallies.
J. T. Wyman '08 missed time with a broken ankle, limiting him to 20 points in 28 games. A quintet of sophomore forwards provided the Big Green with depth last season, with Connor Shield '09 leading his class with 11 points and tying Rob Pritchard '09 with five goals.
Grant Lewis '07, Ben Lovejoy '06 and Mike Hartwick '07 will anchor a Big Green blueline corps that was fourth in the ECACHL in goals per game with 2.79 and third in penalty killing.
Lewis, a First Team All-Ivy and Second Team All-ECACHL pick and coaches' preseason All-League selection, returns this year as the highest-drafted player in the ECACHL, a second round choice by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2004. He netted 15 points from the blueline and accumulated a team-best +12 rating in 33 games. Lovejoy will look to build on last year's performance when he led all defensemen with 16 assists by creating chances in the offensive zone with his combination of speed and power.
John Gibson '09 tallied three points 26 games last season and won Dartmouth's Booma Award as the most outstanding freshman in 2005-06. Mike Devine '08 returns between the pipes after having a stellar season in 2005-06. The Honorable Mention All-Ivy, who according to Glass has "a competitive streak like no one I have ever seen," finished the year with an 18-8-2 record, including a 15-5-2 mark in the latter part of the season with a .915 save percentage and a 2.32 goals against average.
In total, eight freshmen will begin their first collegiate hockey season this year.
"The freshmen class looks great," Glass said. "They have a good mix of size, speed and toughness which should translate into some production as the season wears on. Our line-up isn't set right now, nor is it ever, so I'm sure that you will see some freshmen making some serious contributions on the ice this year."
Glass is confident that if the Big Green plays with consistency game in and game out, the team can be successful in league play, and even on the national stage.
"It's always easy to get up for a game in Thompson arena with 5,000 Dartmouth fans cheering you on. The real test comes when we travel to places like Union and Brown, where you can hear the crickets in the stands. It is on those nights that we have to bring the same intensity necessary to get the 'W'."