Men’s hockey announces recruits
By Brett Drucker, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, May 25, 2012
The Dartmouth men’s hockey team announced that 10 players — six forwards, two defensemen and two goaltenders — will join the Big Green next season as members of the Class of 2016.
The team graduated a league-high 10 seniors this season and will be looking to fill a big void in 2012-2013.
“They were really great kids, and most were with us for four years,” assistant coach Dave Peters said. “The team took a while to jell this past year, but the leadership of our seniors kept it together and showed them how to get through adversity.”
Captain Mike Keenan ’13 expressed confidence in his team’s ability to continue to compete at a high level.
“We lost some great players, but I think that we have guys here already and guys coming in that should be able to step in and help the team,” Keenan said.
One of the biggest problems presented by the departure of the Class of 2012 was the loss of James Mello ’12 and Jody O’Neill ’12, the team’s top two goaltenders, who saw the majority of the ice time between the pipes for the Big Green this past season. The coaching staff identified this as a critical area and recruited two freshmen goaltenders to take the place of the departing veterans, according to Peters,
James Kruger ’16 from Minnetonka, Minn., and Charles Grant ’16 from Berwick, Nova Scotia will replace the two seniors. Both new goalies come in with significant junior league experience and look to challenge returner Cab Morris ’14 — who played in six games last season — for ice time.
“It’s going to be a battle to see who gets the opportunities, and hopefully someone will come out on top for us,” Keenan said.
Kruger comes to the team from the Langley Rivermen of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League, where despite playing for an inexperienced team, he showed his potential as a solid goaltender.
“[Kruger] faced a lot of shots, but he stood on his head and was the backbone of an expansion team,” Peters said.
Grant played for the Yarmouth Marines of the Maritime Junior Hockey League and posted a solid year in net with a 2.54 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. Grant’s numbers continued to improve throughout the playoffs, including a shutout in Game 7 of the league semifinals.
The incoming freshmen forwards have a lot to live up to, as the members of the Class of 2015 put up strong offensive numbers in their first season. Three of the Big Green’s top six scorers last year were freshmen.
Nick Bligh ’16 out of Milton, Mass., will look to come in and make an instant impact on the team after scoring 85 points in 43 games last season for the South Shore Kings of the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
“[Bligh] is a really good playmaker who sees the ice well with good offensive instincts,” Peters said.
Brett Patterson ’16 from Eden Prarie, Minn., will also look to compete right away for the Big Green, and even though he did not have a great statistical season last year, he “has the offensive ability that’s better than his numbers show,” Peters said.
Tim O’Brien ’16, from Winnetka, Ill., was one of the fastest players in the United States Hockey League, playing for the Sioux City Musketeers last season, and will try to bring that energy to the Big Green offense next year.
“He has the ability to generate offense with his speed, and we expect that he’s going to have an impact on the team,” Peters said.
Rick Pinkston ’15 played against O’Brien in the USHL and noted his dangerous quickness in any situation.
Jack Barre ’16 out of Fairfield, Conn., played for the New Jersey Hitmen of the EJHL and was noted by league personnel as one of the top five players in the league, according to Peters.
“He has a lot of hockey sense, is good down low and sees the ice well,” Peters said.
Connor Dempsey ’16 hails from Winthrop, Mass., and played last season for the Westside Warriors of the BCJHL, where he was his team’s leading scorer with 58 points and played in every situation.
Brad Schierhorn ’16 of Anchorage, Alaska, rounds out the new forwards and comes to the Big Green from the Tri-City Storm of the USHL.
“He sees the ice very well and is a smart player who plays on the power play,” Peters said.
Pinkston also played with Schierhorn in the USHL and hailed the rookie as a “big, solid forward who can play all situations with a very accurate shot and deceptive strength.”
The two defensemen, Ryan Bullock ’16 from Eden Prairie, Minn., and Geoff Ferguson ’16 from Hanwell, New Brunswick, are the final recruits in the Class of 2016.
Bullock comes to the Big Green from the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL and brings an attacking threat from the blue line, as he scored 10 goals and tallied 30 points last season.
“He has an outstanding skill level and a tremendous shot from the point,” Peters said. “We expect that he’s going to be able to generate offense.”
Ferguson played alongside O’Brien for Sioux City last year and bore the unusual distinction of wearing a letter as a first-year player, as he was named an assistant captain.
“He’s a ferocious defender who’s smart with the puck,” Peters said.
Peters said that the coaches feel that the Class of 2016 is capable of great things at Dartmouth.
“We think we have a really good mix and were really excited about this whole class,” Peters said.
Peters noted that while many players have had distinguished junior careers, success at the collegiate level often comes down to the ability to adjust to the Dartmouth lifestyle. Pinkston said that one of the biggest changes from juniors was the short ECAC season, which makes every opportunity that much more important.
“It starts early with your offseason training and your off-ice training where every day counts,” Pinkston said. “Every day you’re in the gym, and every day you’re on the ice. You need to make sure you get something out of it.”