Offense: Simply put, the Big Green parted ways with five of its seven leading scorers from 2006-07. There’s no way to sugar-coat it, no way to minimize the effect that will have on Dartmouth’s capacity to put pucks in the net in 2007-08.
David Jones, the leading scorer with 44 points in 33 games, is playing for the Lake Erie Monsters in the AHL. T.J. Galiardi — 31 points, second on the team last year — is plying his trade with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. Kevin Swallow transferred to Maine. Nick Johnson and J.T. Wyman combined for 27 goals and 27 assists as the third- and fifth-place producers, respectively, but the fact remains that among the departed were 55 goals the last time the group skated together.
“Our losses through graduation and other reasons left us a little down,” said coach Bob Gaudet. “This group of newcomers is very important to the success of our program. It’s hard to single out specific players who will be keys to our success but between the freshmen and the players returning we should be able to make up for the ones we lost.”
Sophomore Rob Pritchard flew under the radar on last year’s talent-laden squad, but buried 10 goals nonetheless and improved on his freshman campaign by eight points. Five new forwards don the Green this fall, and 19-year-old Waterloo veteran Kyle Reeds might be the best of the bunch when all the votes come in. Reeds won’t tip the scale, but he may tip the ice for Dartmouth after putting up 23 goals and 22 assists in the USHL last year.
Andrew Owsiak and Scott Fleming posted gaudy numbers last season as well, but against somewhat softer competition.
Defense: Three defensemen accepted their sheepskins and bid Hanover adieu, making room for some new blood on the blue line.
“We lost three players that saw a lot of ice time for us,” Gaudet said. “But with returners like Peter Boldt and John Gibson I feel confident.”
Only two returning d-men logged time in 24 games or more last season, those being Will Boardman and Josh Gibson. This opens the door for the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Harry Taylor or Chris Johnson to prove their worth, with a mere 32 games’ experience between them. Among the incoming freshmen is Jonathon Wolter, who scored 28 points in 33 games for the Jr. Bruins in the underappreciated Eastern Junior league. Joe Stejskal of Grand Rapids was a highly sought-after stud, and Evan Stephens could be an offensive yin to fellow USHL alumnus Danny Markowitz’s stay-at-home yang.
Goaltending: Mike Devine, Mike Devine, Mike Devine. He’s the Big Green Workhorse and rightly so. Of Dartmouth’s 33 games last year, Devine started — and finished — 32 of them. His sophomore year, he played 30 games between the pipes. He put up matching .915 save percentages each of those years, and held opponents to about two and a half goals a game as well. He’s not going anywhere without a fight.
Backing him up, just in case, is freshman Joe Grossman. More on him when necessary.
Outlook: Dartmouth has a tremendous collective void to fill up front, and does not possess the proven defenders to back it up should the goals be slow in coming. Devine will likely be tested like never before as Gaudet tries to mold his team in a hurry, and God help the Green if they should suffer the plagues of injuries that hamstrung them last season. Fortunately for Dartmouth fans, Devine is worth his weight in stopped pucks, and Gaudet’s no rookie behind the pine.