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NCAA PRO-file with Doug Weight

by Bob Snow
It was the summer of 1989, and the Lake Superior State Lakers were a year removed from having won their first national championship under coach Frank Anzalone. 

But after a run of seven consecutive NCAA appearances through 1996 for the CCHA powerhouse that included two more titles in 1992 and 1994 (under coach Jeff Jackson who succeeded Anzalone in 1990), Lake State has not seen postseason play since.

That August, 18-year-old Doug Weight caught the attention of Anzalone. The coach was at a tournament in Detroit casting his keen recruiting eye on another player. A chance meeting by Anzalone with Weight's dad followed.

Shortly after, in Harper Woods, Mich., Weight's dad and uncle were discussing the best college route with their son/nephew, who would go on to become one of the NHL's premier playmakers over 18 NHL seasons with the Rangers, Oilers, Hurricanes, Ducks, Blues and currently the Islanders. Weight recently surpassed the 1,000-point total with 274 goals and 730 assists in 1,175 games and his name is inscribed on the 2006 Stanley Cup, won by Carolina.

"University of Michigan, Michigan State and Lake Superior were probably the three finalists," said Doug Weight senior. "I thought Lake Superior was the best because they focused on hockey and had a hard-nosed coach in Frank Anzalone. The decision was made. It was a good decision."

Indeed, it was.

"I take a lot of advice from my father," Weight said. "He felt Lake State was the place for me -- small and focused on getting better. It had a great off-ice work ethic for training.

"With Frank Anzalone, a lot was in place. They won it all in '88. Then they won two national championships after I left. The first big-time player that went there was Jimmy Dowd. He was a dynamic player and goal scorer."

Weight would reprise Dowd’s role during his two seasons at Lake Superior in 1989-90 and 1990-91, leading the Lakers to the NCAA tournament both seasons with a scintillating offense. He scored 21-48-69 his freshman year and 29-46-75 during his sophomore season.  

"He had been well-trained physically by his dad," Anzalone recalled. "He was persistent. I can honestly say we had to calm him down at times with the amount of intensity he had. But it was refreshing.

"He had a tremendous feel for time and space. What looked like five minutes to us was just a second to him. He becomes like a sixth man -- Gretzky-like. He's used that as a pro player right to today."  

"The first year we were ranked seventh or eighth and went [31-8-3]," Weight recalled. "We felt like we were just on the cusp of being great. We went into a tough building to play in at Colgate. Their goalie was great and deserved to beat us.

"The next year [was 35-3-4]," Weight said. "I'll forever feel slighted a little bit in our rink [against Clarkson]. We lost the first game. I think we had 57 shots; they had 14. The second game we won. The third game, I want to say we had 12 penalties to their three and still had 50-60 shots but lost, 4-3. Their goalie was unbelievable. Our fans were outside - wouldn't let the referees leave until 4 or 5 in the morning."

It would also be a long night -- and following days -- for Weight, who was drafted at No. 34 by the Rangers in the 1990 Entry Draft.

"I was upstairs with the older guys after the game," Weight said. "My dad came in and said I was signing with the Rangers. It was mixed emotions being so into wanting to win a national title. It was confusing, but my last two months of that sophomore year I felt I was doing everything I needed to do to go to the next level.

"He had a tremendous feel for time and space. What looked like five minutes to us was just a second to him. He becomes like a sixth man -- Gretzky-like. He's used that as a pro player right to today."
-- Frank Anzalone, Doug Weight's coach at Lake Superior State

"We had a 29-game winning streak the last year I was there. We were a powerhouse and it was a lot of fun to be on those teams. A small town with a family-type atmosphere … I don't care if you have a 100,000 students and 45 parties to choose from, or a great style of hockey in a small barn that's full of hockey fans in a great city, I wouldn't trade those two years for anything. I learned a lot on and off the ice. Great place."

Lake State boasts but one player endowment in its history.

"I was very proud of him back in 2001," Anzalone said. "Doug Weight was asked by me to endow and he did so. He's the only player to have done that at Lake Superior."

Now full circle and in the twilight of a stellar NHL career, what comes next for Weight after his final NHL shift?

"We still haven't had that talk [about going back to school], and I'm still a bit intimidated by my dad, even at 38," said Weight with dad in tow at last month's Islanders' father-and-son trip. "He's retired now and this is a little down-time to be together. Talk about things we don't get to talk about for a long time - a special time with your parents."

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