With the Kings practicing at the University of Pennsylvania today, it raised an interesting question: How many players considered playing for an Ivy League school?
Six of the eight Ivies have men’s Division I hockey programs (Dartmouth, Princeton, Cornell, Harvard, Yale, Brown), while two do not (Penn, Columbia). With a little bit of digging, it was learned that Jeff Zatkoff looked at Brown University for a little bit, but Dustin Brown, who grew up very close to Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., already had his sights set on playing for the Guelph Storm, whom he played for during his 16, 17 and 18-year-old seasons. Brown, though, did receive interest from the U.S. National Team Development Program before signing in the OHL.
Darryl Sutter was actually one of the players who received a heavy amount of consideration from Ivy League institutions. Noting that he drew interest from Yale, Harvard and Princeton, he said, “I guess they must’ve thought I was an elite student, because it wasn’t anything to do with my hockey ability.” He signed a letter of intent with Michigan Tech, which was slightly closer to central Alberta, based heavily on his impression of the atmosphere at a Huskies game. But Canadians rarely played for NCAA schools at the time, and he ultimately played junior hockey for the WHL’s Lethbridge Broncos, who have since relocated to Swift Current, Sask.
One player who strongly considered Harvard was Nick Shore. Though he’s part of a legacy family at Denver University, where his brothers Drew and Quentin also played, his youngest brother, Baker, committed to Harvard last year. As it turns out, Nick nearly made that same decision, with the Crimson coming a close second in his recruitment to the hometown Pioneers.
“I took a look,” he said. “Their program has only gotten better since I went there. Obviously I don’t have any regrets going to DU. It’s always a special place for me, but yeah, I’m happy for my brother at the same time.”Some of the more recent Kings with Ivy League ties are Ben Scrivens (Cornell), Matt Moulson (Cornell), Kevin Westgarth (Princeton) and George Parros (Princeton). In line with the latter players with more pugilistic tendencies, Ken Baumgartner, who amassed 503 penalty minutes over 91 games with Los Angeles from 1987-90, earned an MBA from Harvard Business School after his 12 year playing career came to a close.
Nic Dowd, the NCHC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2014, was another player who might have been an Ivy League candidate. But the son of a doctor and a nurse who was a Biomedical Science major in college had his sights set on St. Cloud State. While choosing where he wanted to play, he had also considered studying to become a veterinarian.
“I’m interested, definitely, in the medicine side of it, but not with people,” he said. “I don’t even know if with animals, I’m not even sure really, to be honest. I think a science field after hockey, maybe, but we’ll see, things change.” His decisions have paid off; the former Hobey Baker candidate has four goals and 16 points through 43 games of his first full NHL season.
But whether Cornell or Clarkson, Brown or Bowling Green, major respect is due to those who are able to balance the lifestyle of competing at a high level while also experiencing the rigors associated with receiving a top-notch education.
“It’s challenging,” Dowd said. “I mean, everything has it challenges but the college level and pro level, everything’s different. I think some part of it keeps you balanced, you know? Although it’s tough, it kind of takes you away from the game a little bit and you focus on that.”