2016-11-18 / Sports

New era begins for Bowdoin men’s hockey

Season opens tonight at home against Williams
BY CHRISTIAN SANDLER
Times Record Staff

BRUNSWICK

A new era is beginning at Bowdoin College and it’s not in a place you might think.

Jamie Dumont, an assistant since 2011, will lead the Bowdoin men’s hockey team onto the ice against Williams tonight (7 p.m.) as just the third head coach of the program since 1959.

He replaces longtime coach Terry Meagher, who retired at the end of last season after 33 years. His 542 career wins are the sixth most in NCAA Division lll history and he will go down right next to Sid Watson as a Polar Bear legend.

Dumont is now the guy after the guy after the guy.

“First and foremost, it’s a complete honor,” Dumont said. “To come in after Terry (Meagher) and then a guy like Sid Watson, it speaks volumes about the reputation and the program.”

Replacing Meagher’s .669 career winning percentage is a daunting task, but Dumont might just be the smoothest transition possible. Along with over five years of assistant coaching experience, he brings friendship and familiarity to the table.

“We actually talk quite a bit,” Dumont said of his relationship with Meagher. “He’s not only my former boss and certainly a big, big factor and a mentor in my coaching career, but he’s also a very close friend. We chat quite extensively about everything. He’s been here a long time — he’s seen just about everything under the sun when it comes to Bowdoin hockey.”

The familiarity has especially come into play with the players. A first-year preseason that might normally be filled with introductions and trials is being passed over at Sidney J. Watson Arena. Dumont knows everyone in the building and has relationships with all of his returning players.

Training camp has been all about hockey.

“These guys I’ve known since day one,” Dumont said. “There’s a little bit of a different relationship, because I’m on the other side of the hall now, so it’s certainly a benefit to know what we have — what guys can handle and what you can get out of certain players.”

“Culture change” is another term often associated with a coaching hire, but in Bowdoin men’s hockey program, that’s already in place. Dumont made it clear that this season will not be a rebuild and he’s not attempting any drastic changes.

Meagher’s main message to him was “coaching is all about giving advice and just being there for your players” and his primary goal is to step right in as a similar figure.

“This is not a program that needed a culture change,” Dumont said. “The culture is very strong here and it’d be silly for me to come in here and try and change things around. There are a few things to change up, but nothing major, nothing over the top. This is a program that’s always been noted for such a strong tradition.

“Coach was always a really good soundboard for any of our players. Whether it was hockey related or athletically related, he was always there for them. That’s something I’m just trying to keep going and be that support factor for them off the ice as well as on the ice.”

Season prospects

Bowdoin will be looking to build off a solid 13-8-4 campaign last season that ended with a wild 8-5 New England Small College Athletic Conference Tournament loss to Amherst.

After stumbling out of the gates and going winless for almost all of November, the Polar Bears got hot late and won nine of their last 11 regular season games.

“Last year was a really positive year,” Dumont said. “We had some bumps early on but we got better and handled adversity. I think the big thing for us is we want to have that consistent effort every day. With 18 league games and six nonleague games, we need to be consistent in our effort and our approach every night.”

It starts with the opener tonight against Williams, which earned a 4-1 win in this game last season.

Dumont is urging the importance of a strong start to his players.

“It’s been very positive,” he said. “Recruiting has gone very well, our guys have done very well. The last two weeks of training camp have been very good — it’s just a lot we have to put in place as far as a structure and system wise.”

There will be eight freshmen — Sam Topham, Pat Geary, Michael Brown, Thomas Dunleavy, Ronnie Lestan, Max Ginsberg, Christian Capello, Caleb Perez — joining the fold next to a number of returning players.

Few will be more impactful than sophomore Cody Todesco, who led the Polar Bears in both goals (12) and assists (12) last year and earned First Team All NESCAC honors.

“Cody is a big, big factor. Reigning rookie of the year,” Dumont said. “We have really good balance amongst our forward lines and our defensive core. And we have really good goaltending. Our pieces are in place, now it’s up to the guys to be able to step up to the challenge and rise to the challenge when the clock is on and you have referees and a game format.”

Dumont points to strong secondary scoring and overall team balance as strengths of the squad and is just as excited as the players to get things rolling tonight.

“Guys have been very coachable, very responsible and I think the biggest thing for them now is they want to see a different color jersey. Now we can go out and really measure ourselves against the rest of the league. We’ll be a lot smarter after the weekend, for sure.”

Bowdoin will have home ice on its side this month, hosting Middlebury on Saturday, the University of New England on Nov. 22 and SUNY Genesco on Nov. 26 before its first road game at Colby against Becker on the 27th.

Then the Polar Bears will make up for it in January, playing six of eight games away from Watson arena. They’ll close the regular season with a pair of home games against Tufts (Feb. 17) and Connecticut College (Feb. 18).

The annual home-and-home series with rival Colby takes place Dec. 2-3, with the Mules visiting the Polar Bears on Dec. 2 before Bowdoin returns the favor in Waterville Dec. 3.

Tickets for the Colby game at Watson Arena will be made available to the general public on Monday in the lobby of Morrell Gymnasium. Tickets are free, but will be required to get in the door due to high demand. Tickets will be available beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

Return to top