Ivy League freshmen finally playing games, getting acclimated to rigors of college hockey, college lifestyle

 (photo: Gil Talbot/Harvard Athletics)
Carolina prospect Jack Drury made his college hockey debut this past weekend for Harvard (photo: Gil Talbot/Harvard Athletics)

All 60 Division I hockey schools have officially started this season as the Ivies finally got their season underway this past weekend.

So how do Ivy League freshmen, especially those who have played junior hockey where the season starts in September or in early October, make the adjustment to starting later than they are accustomed to?

It depends on what coach you ask.

“We try to develop a routine with our guys in terms of the weight room and in terms of practicing and have days of practice that are just like games,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “Once we get into it, it kind of moves along pretty well I think. Getting the freshmen acclimated is very difficult but again, we have a bunch of guys who have been through it.”

Gaudet likes the late start to their season as the freshmen can focus on their academics before thinking about playing in a competitive hockey game. On the academic side of things, there’s a support system not only for the freshmen but for all the players like faculty advisors, mentors and alumni for the players to lean on.

Gaudet generally likes to lean on the older players in general because of their experience the school’s trimester schedule. Once the hockey season gets started, they are in the middle of the trimester and midterms are taking place.

In the game against Harvard last Saturday where the Big Green won 7-6 in overtime, Gaudet only dressed three freshmen skaters in Drew O’Connor, Harrison Markell and Jeffrey Losurdo while Justin Ferguson served as the backup goalie. O’Connor had a goal and two assists while Markell had an assist.

With the team only graduating five seniors from a year ago, it will be competitive during practices as the newcomers try to get playing time as the season goes along.

The adjustment for freshmen to the Ivy League schedule isn’t something Harvard’s Ted Donato really thinks about.

“It’s definitely a change for a lot of guys coming from junior hockey with their season starting in late August or early September,” Donato said. “In general, our guys have an opportunity to get on the ice so we don’t try to really focus on it.”

The Crimson dressed five freshmen against Dartmouth. Jack Drury – a second-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in June – had three assists while Baker Shore had a goal and a helper. Casey Dornbach and Jack Rathbone each had an assist while RJ Murphy was left pointless in his collegiate debut.

How about the players who come straight from prep school to Division I hockey? Do they handle it better since they are use to starting the season once the leaves have fallen from the trees?

“I haven’t noticed much difference,” Donato said. “I think in general, these guys are all student-athletes. They are all hockey players regardless if they start two weeks later or two weeks earlier.”

Gaudet has the same feeling as Donato that no matter where a player comes from junior or prep school hockey, these kids are bright and roll with the flow of their new life as a college athlete.

“I think the maturity level of these kids is really high,” Gaudet said. “So I think understanding the college game and understanding the rigors of the academic side of things, the physical side of things in terms of training or practice and honing in your skills. I love the fact what we have, what we seem to get in terms of our identity is we get kids is the essential skill of hockey players, and that’s work ethic.”

Around the Ivy League, Cornell had five freshmen dress for this weekend’s games versus Michigan State. Max Andreev scored his first career goal and Michael Regush had an assist on the weekend.

Princeton had four freshmen suit up in the loss to Penn State in the season opener. Yale also had four freshmen in the lineup with Curis Hall getting an assist against Brown. Three of the five Brown first-years recorded at least a point over the weekend in the games against Yale and Vermont. Justin Jallen had a goal and an assist while Tristan Crozier had a goal and Jake Harris had an assist.