Easier Being Green
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Thoughts with Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet after his team won its first-ever ECAC regular-season championship (shared with Colgate). Gaudet was the goaltender during Dartmouth's only other strong period since the '50s, when it went to back-to-back 4-team NCAA Tournaments in 1979 and 1980. Dartmouth won the title by defeating St. Lawrence, 3-0, last Saturday, after the Saints arrived at the arena late because of a 25-car traffic accident that closed down I-93.
"It was two good teams, a nice crowd. It was fun to see the guys get that share of the trophy and skate around with it. ... I was really surprised that there was a trophy there because I had no idea. It was senior night and we figured we'd mill around, and all of a sudden Laura Stange [from the ECAC office] showed up with the trophy. The timing was nice to have that and be at home, and obviously it was a long time coming."
On the class of St. Lawrence's program:
"Joe Marsh is an unbelieveable guy. [The players] had shaken hands. I've known Joe for a long time. They had left the ice. When the trophy showed up shortly thereafter, the whole St. Lawrence team showed up back on the ice. ... They have the type of team — even from where they are now [the 5 seed] — they can win it. They're good. And Joe is one of those guys — they beat us earlier this year and we chatted after the game for 10 minutes and it was never about hockey, it was always about family. And he's leaving the rink this time after the game — and they had a helluva trip too, with weather and accidents — and he ran into my older boy Joey, who he hasn't seen in a while, and he was talking to him. And Joey was blown away because he didn't think he'd recognize him."
On the first-ever ECAC championship:
"I didn't realize any of this. To do this for the guys is really pretty special. It's [Dartmouth's] 100 Years of Hockey [celebration] this year, and I think the guys on the team really got a sense of what the whole thing was about. They got to meet the older guys. We had 300 alums here — Jack Reilly, Walter Bush — the guys got a real first-hand sense of the 100-year tradition. And although there wasn't a championship in modern times, they did have those mythical national championships. And three of the five living members came. And that was pretty special. The players got a sense they represent something much bigger than themselves."
On the team's 0-4 start in the ECAC:
"Our captain, Mike Ouellette, is an unbelieveable leader and inspiration. He kept them focused. We had some growing pains obviously. I'm sure I had something to do with it. To play without [graduated All-American] Lee Stempniak, and moreso the thought of Jessiman, because he wasn't here much of last year, and Dan Yacey, who had a lot of the career [records] goaltending wise — the impact of that was kind of tough. We were trying to mold a team and have the younger guys fit in and the older guys really pick up and fill those voids. And that happened. Mike did a great job with our team and staying with it, and the younger guys fit in well. Guys like Bellows, Shields and Swallow played on a line. And Pritchard, and [defenseman] John Gibson."
On sophomore Mike Devine emerging as the No. 1 goalie:
"It was in the middle of December, right around the Harvard game and through the [holiday] tournament, he just took over and ran with it and was really solid, and played with a lot of confidence. ... I didn't see that [coming]. The heir apparent was Sean Samuel, and he filled the gap when Yacey stumbled a bit last year and he did a good job and carried it. You'd think that would be a natural [successor], but for whatever reason, he wasn't real comfortable where he played to his capabilities."
On the improved defensive emphasis over the course of the season:
"That's where we've gotten a lot better. We started the season thinking we needed all that production from the blue line, but in reality what the focus was after the first stretch was simplicity and just moving the puck and not worrying about guys jumping up in the offense. Good, solid defensive play started fairly early this year, and that's been a big part of our consistency. ... And four lines, we're able to roll them. ... And David Jones is a real big plus. Eric Przpiorka got his 100th career point. Nick Johnson has played well."
On getting junior defenseman Grant Lewis, a second-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers, back in the lineup:
"Will Boardman did a nice job [in Lewis' absence]. Sean Offers and [Ben] Lovejoy were banged up too. But whoever's played has done well. ... The big thing is, we lost J.T. Wyman. He broke his ankle late in the St. Lawrence game. His leg was kind of caught and he got hit and his body twisted. ... On Friday, Lewis was playing conservative. But on Saturday he was back. He's been really good all year. He works his butt off."
On losing four one-goal non-league games, to Vermont, New Hampshire, Holy Cross and Mass.-Lowell, and being 16th in the Pairwise — which comes after last season, when the Big Green lost an ECAC quarterfinal series in three games when a win would've gotten his team an at-large NCAA bid. (Gaudet coached Brown to its last NCAA appearance in 1993.)
"We kind of knew it at the time. The odds are stacked against you. You really have to blow it out to get that accomplished [an at-large bid]. But we also know if we can win the league championship, it's automatic. So that's our goal. ... Unfortunately, we don't throw games during the regular season, but for whatever reason they come at a time when you're trying to find yourself. You change this, or you're changing lines. But we played good hockey, we played really well in most of those games and had nothing to show for it. So I'm happy the guys stayed with it and did a really good job in the league and give us a chance of maybe going in that way. ... Obviously, it was a self-inflicted. So now what we have to do is focus on playing well. And that's what we've done. Focus on playing well and focusing on the process. It's simple [sounding], but it's hard to do."