One-one-one with Bob Gaudet '81, men's hockey coach
The men’s hockey team takes on Yale University and Brown University this Friday and Saturday in its final two home games of the regular season. Saturday’s game against Brown is the team’s senior night, where the team’s six seniors will be honored for their contributions to the program. Head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 sat down with the Dartmouth and looked back on the seniors’ trip to the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament semifinals in Lake Placid, N.Y. in 2016 and their victory over defending champion Denver University last season. Gaudet also reflected on the character of the senior class and the team’s goal to return to Lake Placid this postseason.
What was your impression of the senior class when they first arrived at Dartmouth?
BG: It’s a great group of guys. I was looking forward to getting to know them, and that’s what’s happened over the last four years. It’s amazing how time flies by. They’ve become really good leaders and good men who I’ve enjoyed being around. These guys go from being young guys to being guys who are such integral parts of the team and then are relied upon. Post-graduation, they are friends and alumni, and it’s a neat transformation from these young guys to grown men.
How has the class impacted the program and what stands out about this class in particular?
BG: A guy like Kevan Kilistoff ’19 represents the group really well. He’s a two-year captain, which is pretty rare at this level. He was elected captain by his peers as a junior. He’s just a fabulous leader. Carl Hesler ’18 is another guy who has done so much for our program and is a veteran player with a strong leadership ability. There’s Connor Yau ’19, who’s back on the blue line as a defenseman with Cameron Roth ’19. Both are different players but good players and really good guys. They’re guys I can really lean on in any situation and can trust with everything. Then there’s guys like Alex Jasiek ’19, who’s having an excellent year for us scoring. He’s done a really good job and is a really skilled forward who gets to play on our power play and does a nice job for us. John Ernsting ’19 is a guy who’s had some nagging injury troubles throughout his career but is starting to get healthy now, and I hope he helps us down the stretch here because he’s a good player and is a strong leader. All of these guys, in their own way, add so much to our team in terms of Killistoff’s leadership and Hesler’s dependability and Jasiek’s scoring ability and the defensive ability of Yau and Roth and hopefully Ernsting, now that he’s healthy, will help us do something special down the stretch here.
How do the seniors show leadership and how have the younger players on the team responded to their leadership?
BG: I think they show leadership by example. For me as a coach, it’s great because these guys have a standard that they live up to every day, and the young players on the team look up to them. They show it in the classroom. We have a 3.4 or 3.5 GPA, so there’s a standard off the ice in the classroom. There’s a standard in how they represent themselves without the jersey on when they’re on campus, and obviously in the weight room where development and work ethic is shown in how they get after it in terms of training. On the ice in practice and games, their work ethic and the example that they show on a daily basis and the standard that they reinforce and demand from their teammates by the way they go about day-to-day training and school, it’s a really great group of guys that I can really trust.
What were your expectations for the senior class four years ago, and have those expectations been met?
BG: The expectation is to compete year in and year out, day in and day out, and really work toward developing, and they’ve done that. Our team is currently three points out of a home ice bye. We hope we can make up that ground in the next two weekends. The guys read a book over the summer, Legacy. In that book, there’s a lot of talk about leaving the jersey in a better place than when they got it. I know that they’ve done that each and every year the past four, and now in their last year, I know they will live up to that down the stretch here. They’re really proud of Dartmouth. They love the school and they really want to represent it to the best of their abilities on and off the ice. I’m really proud of them.
In your mind, what are some of the greatest accomplishments for the seniors on the team?
BG: When we went out to Denver last season and beat the number one team in the country and defending national champions in their own building, it was a tremendous accomplishment. This group also made it to the ECAC championships in Lake Placid in 2016 after beating a really good Yale team in New Haven in the second round of the playoffs. We beat Colgate in double-overtime in an epic series that year. We beat them and then went on to play Yale and beat them two straight games. In the first game at Yale, Yau scored the game winner in overtime, and then we beat Yale the next night, and that propelled us to Lake Placid in the league’s final four. That’s my hope for these guys. Our goal is to get back there. We have another shot at it this year, and I know it would be very fitting. Those games were memorable for me and hopefully for the guys.
What would it mean for the team and for the seniors to get back to Lake Placid this postseason?
BG: It would just be a great accomplishment. When we get back there this year, our goal will be to win it. That’s what we’ll be doing in the two remaining regular season weekends to give us that momentum going into the playoffs with the goal of making it to Lake Placid and winning that. I know we have the ability.
What are your expectations and hopes for this weekend’s games and the final four regular season games?
BG: We’re playing two really good teams. They are both very skilled and quick teams. Brown is currently tied with us, and Yale is four points ahead of us, so it’s a huge weekend for us when you have back-to-back Ivy League games. Our league is so strong, it’s the best Division I league in the country. You have to be at your best every game. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and my hope is that the students will come out and cheer the guys on. Hopefully, our seniors can end their regular season portion of their careers in style.