The Dowd Report
Senior Captain Delivering For St. Cloud State
by Sam Obermyer/CHN Reporter
Following its first Frozen Four appearance in program history, and then an offseason that saw renovations complete to its home arena in time for the start of the NCHC era, expectations were high at St. Cloud State for the 2013-14 season.
So far, the Huskies have met those expectations, with an 8-1-1 record to start the season, including a recent sweep of old and new conference rival North Dakota – an effort that earned St. Cloud CHN Team of the Week honors.
"We are very fortunate and very happy because it's been so tight," said Huskies Head Coach Bob Motzko, whose team has had to come back to win from behind in three games so far this season.
One of the players integral to St. Cloud’s early season and ongoing success is senior captain Nic Dowd. Three of Dowd’s team-leading five goals thus far have been game winners.
Moreover, Motzko said Dowd has shown leadership both on and off the ice and has matured as much as a leader as a player, which is why he was elected a captain by his own teammates.
"As a young freshman he kind of came in following the crowd a little bit and that's been one of the greatest transformations for Nic. He is not following anymore, he is leading," Motzko said.
Dowd says he has not felt any extra pressure since being named a captain.Said Dowd, "I think it was a pretty smooth transition into being a captain. Just because we did not have a 'C' on the jersey last year, we still had a lot of leaders in the locker room.
"I like to be a leader that is looked upon and leads by example and would never ask a teammate to do something that I would not do myself.”
A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Dowd was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL Draft. Dowd recalls the moment he heard about his selection fondly.
"I was driving back form Wal-Mart with three of my buddies," said Dowd. "I got a text from saying, ‘you just got drafted into the NHL.’ I did not have a smart phone at the time and neither did my buddies, and we had no reception. We were like 'What the Hell?' I had talked to LA one time before this deal and had not talked to them after that. It was a pretty quick conversation and from what I thought it was not something I anticipated or that I needed to watch the draft.
“I didn't know the draft was really going on."
While Alabama may not be known for producing hockey players – there have only been two players in NHL history who were born in Alabama – Dowd started playing hockey because, like a lot of kids, he was following in the steps of his older brothers.
This past weekend, Dowd and the Huskies swept the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers in Dowd’s hometown.
"I grew up watching Alabama-Huntsville my whole life," Dowd said before the trip. "My Dad would take me to a lot of the games. Playing on teams growing up I was fortunate enough to skate with some of the guys when I was younger. The rink they play in, the VBC rink , I played in when I was young."
All that hard work has, obviously, paid off – and then some.
"His priorities are great,” said Motzko. “He's a great student-athlete. He understands the importance in being well balanced in everything he does. So he is a great role model with how he conducts himself off the ice and then on-ice. He is one of the hardest working players we have day in and day out."
A pre-veterinary major, Dowd views both sides of the student-athlete equation as equally important.
"The way I look at it is there is no point in coming to school wasting your time, your parents’ money and your parents’ time and your professors’ time if you are not going to fully apply yourself," Dowd said. "I look at it too as hockey and your life outside of hockey are pretty well connected and the person you are off the ice can affect the person you can be on the ice as well. So you have that same attitude that you had on the ice and you bring that to the classroom and I think that will make you successful."
Dowd, clearly committed to that balance, joined a number of other Huskies players in growing out his hair last year for Locks of Love.
"It was a mess, but it was something that I'm really happy we did," said Dowd, who grew out his hair for about 20 months. "Six of my teammates got together and we did it. Everyone looked pretty gross, but I thought we rocked it pretty well.”
Back on the ice, the Huskies find themselves neck and neck atop the standings with several of the elite teams in the NCHC. St. Cloud hosts Colorado College for a pair of games to close out its November schedule, before beginning December with a trip to Minnesota-Duluth.
And despite its 8-1-1 record, the best for the Huskies – eyeing a return to the Frozen Four – may be yet to come.
Said Motzko, "We have given ourselves a chance in all of the games we have been in with just a good solid defense and strong goaltending. We have just had timely offense.
“We are not too far ahead of ourselves, we are moving forward like everybody, working on the things we need to work on."