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NCAA PRO-file with Dominic Moore

by Bob Snow
It is the most exclusive club in college hockey, and an expanding one across NHL rosters.
Ken Dryden started at Cornell en route to making an indelible mark in NHL history during the 1970s; Joe Nieuwendyk, also a Big Red alum, came along in the 1980s. Each went on to win Stanley Cups and Conn Smythe trophies.
Six of the most prestigious academic institutions in any Division I sport -- Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown and Dartmouth -- are sending more and more players to the NHL, and many are having their names inscribed on the Stanley Cup.
It's even more impressive when you consider the Ivy schools don't offer athletic scholarships, while most NCAA teams provide up to 18 tuition-free opportunities.
That hasn't stopped top talent like Douglas Murray (Sharks) and Matt Moulson (Islanders) from reaching the NHL after schooling at Cornell.
Same goes for Princeton alums Jeff Halpern (Canadiens), Darroll Powe (Flyers), Kevin Westgarth (Kings), and the Ducks' George Parros and Mike Moore.
Dartmouth has a trio in the NHL in Lee Stempniak (Coyotes), Ben Lovejoy (Penguins), and Tanner Glass (Canucks).
Florida Panthers forward Chris Higgins played at Yale.
Harvard has current alums Dylan Reese (Islanders) and Craig Adams (Penguins) -- and Dominic Moore.
"Best of both worlds," said the Tampa Bay forward, who captained the Crimson in his senior season and was a Hobey Baker nominee that year (2002-03). He helped lead Harvard to two NCAA tournaments before graduating.
"Ivy was not a prerequisite, but it seemed to make the most sense in terms of those two worlds (education and hockey)," said Moore. "My family stressed being well-rounded (and) that included a passion for hockey and sports and our upbringing about school."
About what about that expanding Ivy base in the NHL?
"It's a reflection of college hockey in general being so much stronger and Ivy teams being a part of that," Moore said. "The quality of players has gotten better and the powers that be are not afraid to give these players a chance. We have 11 college guys on our team right now; 10 years ago you'd never see that happen."
For Moore and his hockey-playing brothers, Steve and Mark, who played together at Harvard for one season (1999-2000) where they formed the first trio of brothers in school history, puck pedigree was not in the family genealogy.
"My dad didn't play," said Dominic, a third-round pick by the Rangers in 2000. "He couldn't afford to play the game, but it was his favorite sport. He saw quickly that we loved it as much as he did. Thanks to their sacrifices, we were able to play."
Moore excelled at Harvard. He earned First-Team All-America honors his in 2002-03 and was named to the ECAC All-Decade Team for 2000-2009.
"Winning the ECAC championship my junior year was a big thing," he said. "Those (two) NCAA games were tremendous achievements for us. My freshman year we weren't a very good team. By the end, you're among the top teams in the country. I had a double-OT winner against Brown in the first round of the league playoffs. And the Beanpot was great. Just playing my best games in the biggest games is something I look back on with pride."
Harvard's loss in the first round of the 2002 and 2003 NCAA tournaments contributed one key piece of the life-experience puzzle that keeps Moore on a mission to make the most of his opportunities today.
"I had the opportunity to leave after junior year," he said. "I'm glad I didn't. You're only in college four years -- not a long time. They are some of the best memories you have, especially your senior year."
In his 128 games at Harvard, Moore had 64 goals and 84 assists, good for No. 11 all-time in points and No. 10 in goals.
Ivy schools have an abbreviated schedule (teams start in November and play just 29 regular-season games), but Moore says it doesn't inhibit player development.
"No," said Moore. "For a lot of kids, playing less allows them to work on fitness and strength, not to mention the maturation process, as well. You also are playing against men, which is not true if you play in the junior ranks instead of college. You may play a lot more games (in junior), but in college hockey the games are more high quality."
Moore also believes the "smarts" factor translates at the NHL level.
"I think there's a definite link between (intelligence) and NHL performance," he said. "I've played with hockey players who didn't go to college and they are some of the smartest people I know. But at the same time, being able to handle the work load and preparation and intangible things go back to intelligence and work ethic that come from hockey and school. It applies to success in all fields.
"The personal and character thing allows you to overcome adversity."
For the 30-year-old native of Thornhill, Ont., hockey adversity is defined in geographic terms. Tampa Bay is his eighth team in seven NHL seasons.
"I was put on waivers by Minnesota," said Moore about seemingly his most difficult transition in January 2008, when he joined the Maple Leafs. "Coming back from that was something I take a lot of pride in."
He went on to play for Buffalo, Florida, and Montreal before signing a two-year deal with Tampa Bay last summer.
"I don't think I'll ever count my chickens, but I enjoy being here," he said. "It's been fun doing what we've done, but we have a long way to go."
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