This year, there’s no controversy. Harvard’s starting goaltender job officially belongs to Dov Grumet-Morris.
The sophomore entered last season as the younger half of a two-man platoon in net alongside junior Will Crothers. It took nearly the entire regular season—until a 4-0 shutout of Union on Feb. 23—for Grumet-Morris to finally emerge as the full-time goalie. His subsequent stellar performance in the playoffs cemented his hold on the job.
Now, it’s his to lose.
“Dov has won the right to be our starting goaltender,” said Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni. “We were searching for that last year, especially when we were in that challenging period in February. He emerged and he really stepped forward in a very positive manner and shouldered the pressure and really was one of the key reasons why our season turned.”
Grumet-Morris helped lead a relatively inexperienced Harvard team to the NCAA tournament by minding the net for an astounding four overtime games in a row.
In the ECAC title game, a 4-3 win against favored Cornell, he set the Harvard record for goaltender minutes played in a game (96:11). In the process, Grumet-Morris justified his teammates faith in him.
“Dov is one of those guys who plays his best in the big games,” captain Dominic Moore said. “In the playoffs, there’s nothing you need more than a great goalie because a good goalie can single-handedly win games. That’s exactly what Dov did last year in the playoffs. I’ve never seen performances like Dov’s.”
The strong playoff run helped Grumet-Morris and his teammates build up their confidence for the coming season.
“Because of the success that our team experienced this past postseason, we know that we are capable of beating any team in our league,” Grumet-Morris said. “That will go a long ways towards helping us during the grueling regular season.”
Following his remarkable postseason performance, Grumet-Morris was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the fifth round of the 2002 NHL entry draft as the 161st pick overall. He plans to sign with the Flyers at the end of his college career.
“Being drafted this past summer was definitely a very positive and encouraging event for me,” Grumet-Morris said. “It’s something special for all hockey players because it connects them, in a small way, to something that they have looked up to their entire lives—the NHL.”
For those who know him well, Grumet-Morris’ emergence has not come as a surprise at all.
“We absolutely believe Dov has the capability of playing in the NHL,” said Chico Adrahtas, head coach of the Danville (Ill.) Wings, Grumet-Morris’ former junior-league team. “You’re familiar with the old saying, ‘Many are called, few are chosen.’ Well, Dov will be chosen.”
The Wings have played a large part in Grumet-Morris’ development. While playing for Danville in the 2000-2001 season, Grumet-Morris set team records for goals-against average and save percentage and was voted the team’s Rookie of the Year.
He also acquired a good deal of the team’s philosophy, which emphasizes character both on and off the ice.
“My time at Danville allowed my game to mature to the point where I had a greater appreciation for the off-ice aspect of hockey, a very crucial aspect of the sport,” Grumet-Morris said.
He also earned the admiration of his coaches and teammates through his confidence, talent and work ethic.
“Dov was very confident in practice,” Adrahtas said. “And he was a class-act off the ice. He’s a very loquacious kid and was a popular teammate.”
Adrahtas continues to follow Dov’s progress, talking on the phone with him about once a week and checking his games over the internet. He considers his former pupil the prototype at the backstop position.
“If you were to build a goalie from scratch,” Adrahtas said, “you’d give him great reflexes, make him a good skater, confident without being egotistical, mentally strong enough to withstand and thrive under the pressure of the position, and have an unparalleled work ethic. I’ve just described Dov Grumet-Morris.”
Given their high opinion of Grumet-Morris, the Wings were not at all surprised when he took over the starting job at Harvard so early in his career.
“We expected him to have an immediate impact,” Adrahtas said. “Being a former goalie, there was no way Coach Mazzoleni was going to miss exactly what Dov could accomplish. We were not surprised.”
With the experience gained from his time in Danville and his first season at Harvard, Grumet-Morris says he is ready for his sophomore year and is confident in what he and his team can accomplish.
That’s good because much of the team’s playoff aspirations will rest on his shoulders. Of course, as last year’s playoff run showed, he’s more than capable of bearing that burden.
“The team is very confident in Dov, as is the coaching staff,” Mazzoleni said. “We are going to give him the opportunity to run with it.”