For such a rough season, the Green had a surprisingly robust offense. The Hanover hotshots put up over three goals a game overall, and finished third in ECAC Hockey with 64 in ’06-07.
Johnson (10-25-35), Wyman (15-15-30) and Grecu (7-14-21) were certainly talented players, holding spots 1, 2 and 4 in the Dartmouth scoring race by season’s end. While they will leave a considerable hole in the Big Green offense, the remainder of the front lines are pretty much intact.
“I like the depth that we have at all positions,” said coach Bob Gaudet. “I like our team a lot. We’re going to be young, and there’s no way around that … there are no marquee players up front, but I like what we’ve got.”
The downside is obviously the loss of those three point-machines, and that’s a known quantity. The upside, however, is far more variable: a year’s experience may ignite a still-young-but-surging offense, or the team’s production could fall further than the Old Man of the Mountain.
Defenseman Evan Stephens is the team’s leading returning scorer with five goals and 17 assists in his freshman campaign. Junior Joe Gaudet — the coach’s son — was the only underclassman to score 10 goals last year, and sophomore Kyle Reeds (8-11-19) showed great promise in his first taste of the college game.
The more influential Gaudet also praised senior center Connor Shields.
“He got hurt midseason and missed the second half. He was our best faceoff man, our most experienced center, and he’s coming back healthy with great speed and potential,” said Coach.
Newcomer Doug Jones “played quite well in the USHL, and has a track record with good offensive ability,” said Gaudet. Of Jones’ new classmates Troy Mattila, Nik Walsh and Paul Lee, Gaudet said, “all have good size and can shoot the puck. They have good ability, and bring different things.”
Lee, in particular, is six-foot-three and 210 pounds. “He did a pretty good job of scoring at the prep level,” said Gaudet, “but his role is probably going to evolve here. He’s a big, strong guy.”
Stephens clearly leads the way.
“He’s an all-around kind of player,” said Gaudet. “He can make a pass or lug it out himself.”
Will Boardman (0-2-2) played 15 games for the Green last season, and was the only graduating loss on Gaudet’s blue line. The returning players include Stephens, a healthy Peter Boldt (1-9-10), and second-year Montreal pick Joe Stejskal (1-4-5), along with another half-dozen d-men who saw time last season, including senior John Gibson, who only played half the season due to injury.
While the carryover potential looks good for the corps, junior Kevin McCarthy will be slow to rejoin the group as he will spend perhaps the first half of the season recovering from an undisclosed injury.
Mike Devine, like Colgate’s Mark Dekanich and Clarkson’s David Leggio, has left some big goalie skates to fill between the Dartmouth iron. Devine played 91 games in his career in Hanover, holding a 2.68 goals-against mark and a .913 save percentage while facing an average of nearly 31 shots a game over his four-year term.
Gunning for his post will be senior Dan Goulding and incoming frosh Jody O’Neill and James Mello. O’Neill was a second-team All-Star with Smiths Falls of the Central Ontario league last year, while Mello was named the Eastern Junior League’s top goaltender.
“The goaltending’s wide open,” confirmed Gaudet.
A backup last year, junior Joe Grossman has decided to leave the program to focus on his academics.
This is a darned-near-unknowable kinda team. Many key parts of the machine were injured last year, the goalie is yet-to-be-determined, and the youth of the program is both staggering yet relatively experienced.
Dartmouth won’t be a doormat, nor will it be a dominator … I expect the Big Green to play tough, rough-and-tumble hockey with the best and worst of the league alike. Dartmouth is a middle-of-the-pack upset-maker if I ever saw one.