Leaving behind a disappointing 2017-18 season, the Bowdoin men’s ice hockey team will open the season with home games against Williams and Middlebury tonight and tomorrow afternoon, respectively. The team is feeling optimistic, says Head Coach, Jamie Dumont.
Though the team has been one of Bowdoin’s most prestigious and successful in the past, last season was the worst in its history, as the team failed to make it into the first round of the NESCAC tournament.
“You’ve got to have a short-term memory and just kind of move on,” said Dumont. “I think the attitude is still very healthy. There [are] a lot guys [who] have chips on their shoulders going into it and want to prove that we are a competitive program.”
Dumont is beginning his third season as head coach after serving as assistant coach to former Head Coach Terry Meagher, who retired in 2016 after 33 years coaching Bowdoin hockey.
“I don’t want to stray too far from what this program is all about,” Dumont said. “[It’s] built on good people working hard and supporting each other.”
Although the team has yet to play a game, all the coaches and players are feeling positive about the season. Dumont recognized Bowdoin’s standing as an “underdog” in the league, and said he hoped the team would embrace the role and surprise a few teams.
“Just [during] preseason in the last couple of months, we’ve been getting into it and really going hard,” said Seth Cooper ’19. “Whether it’s practice or preseason lifts and conditioning, we’ve seen the young guys all the way through to the old guys and captains really coming together and working hard.”
This season, the team is trying a new, holistic approach to conditioning. In conference play, each victory earns a team two points in the league standing. The Polar Bears are working to apply this concept to every aspect of a player’s life.
“We really focused on making sure we have what our coaches are calling two-point practices,” said Cooper. “We’re really focusing on a two-point [attitude] in the locker room. Then, on the ice outside, everyone’s real focused. [We try to shift between] two-point practices, two-points in the classroom and two-points in the game. Hopefully it’ll all roll over.”
Both Dumont and Cooper also expressed great excitement over the team’s seven new members. Six first-years joined the team, as well as one transfer student, goalie Kyle St. Denis ’21.
“We lost a pretty solid goalie last year, so there’s big shoes to fill, but I think the competition will be good,” Cooper said.
Hockey is unique compared to other sports on campus, because many players take a year or two to play full time before coming to college. However, this year’s hockey recruits are younger than most. Nearly all of them are 18-year-olds, as opposed to hockey players in previous years who were often 20-years-old by their first year of college.
The shift from high school hockey to college can be a difficult adjustment for some players. Rather than playing just one game a week, Bowdoin is scheduled to have games nearly every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.
Nonetheless, the team is ready to embrace the new season and take on a tough league with ambition and a competitive attitude.
“Our mindset is that it’s a new year,” said Dumont. “We want to learn from the past and build on the future. Our two leaders Pat [Geary ’20] and Chris [Wallace ’19] have done an outstanding job refocusing our guys.”