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College route to NHL was just right for Moore

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Road to the Rangers
When Dominic Moore was 4 years old, his family moved from their home in Sarnia, Ontario, to the Toronto suburb of Thornhill.

Young Dominic had already begun skating two years earlier in Sarnia, and well before the move to Thornhill, Dominic and his older brothers, Mark and Steve, were already playing hockey together. Even though the Moore boys began their hockey careers elsewhere, it was in Thornhill -- playing in the local minor hockey association -- that they truly embraced the game.

Hockey is known for its bloodlines, as many of the game's greatest players had at least one sibling who also played in the NHL. The Moore family is no exception, with all three brothers having played professionally, and Dominic still representing the trio in the NHL.

"It's really not so amazing that we all became hockey players," Dominic says with a shrug. "That's the way it goes when you all play against each other all the time. It was certainly nice for us growing up to be able to play ball hockey and compete against each other every day."

Now a 25-year-old center, Dominic is in his first full season with the Rangers after a five-game stint with the team in 2003-04. On Nov. 1, 2003, he tied a franchise record for scoring by a player in his first NHL game with three assists -- something no Rangers rookie had managed to do for 65 years. That was just a glimpse of what he can contribute to the Rangers in the years to come.

The early years

With Steve and Dominic reaching the NHL, and Mark playing a few seasons in the AHL, the Moore family can certainly be proud of its hockey achievements. But up until the present generation, hockey wasn't a sport the Moore family was known for playing.

Tennis was the other popular sport in the Moore household, predating even hockey. At the same time he was developing as a hockey player, Dominic was also a tennis standout. He continued playing competitive tennis until his sophomore year at Harvard University.

Despite his love for tennis, Dominic insists it never overshadowed hockey in his priority list. He finally walked away from the game when it began to take away from his hockey pursuits.

"Hockey has always been No. 1," Dominic said. "Tennis was just something that I liked to play. Hockey was and is the focus."

As sports fans themselves, hockey was certainly the focus for all three Moore brothers. They didn't just play the game together, they also watched it as a group.

When the Moores were growing up, a Toronto Maple Leafs game at Maple Leaf Gardens was always a tough ticket. Dominic says he was fortunate to attend games with his brothers and root for his favorite players, even if they weren't always members of the home team.

Going off to college

If hockey was the sport of choice for the Moore family, then Harvard University was the college of choice. All three brothers graduated from the prestigious Ivy League school, but that was as much a coincidence as anything. Up until Steve Moore went off to college, Harvard wasn't even on the family's radar.

As a teen-age star in Toronto, Dominic could have gone on to play major junior in the Ontario Hockey League. Instead, he ended up following Steve and Mark to Cambridge, Mass. It didn't matter in the end, since no OHL team actively pursued him.

"My brothers had both already gone the college direction, so they (major junior) knew I wasn't going to go," Dominic said. "They might have talked to my coaches, but it was clear that I wasn't going to go."

Although most people assumed Dominic would end up at Harvard, he did not have a clear college choice in mind and refused to be overly influenced by outside forces in determining the direction of his hockey career.

The Harvard experience

In his first year at Harvard, Dominic had the unique opportunity to call both of his brothers teammates. It was an "incredible" experience that made his choice of a college infinitely more meaningful.

Playing in Cambridge meant balancing hockey with the rigorous demands of a Harvard education. After meeting that challenge, perhaps the grueling NHL lifestyle and its constant travel is a piece of cake.

While at Harvard, Dominic helped the Crimson turn their program around after five straight losing seasons. In his senior year, the Crimson went 22-10-2 and reached the NCAA tournament. Dominic was named Harvard's MVP that season.

What made that senior season even more special for Dominic was a decision he made the previous summer. Given the opportunity to leave school to begin his pro hockey career, he chose to finish his degree on time.

Making the jump to the NHL

That option to leave college had been on the table for two years, because following a freshman season in which he scored 12 goals and 36 points in 30 games, Dominic was the Rangers' third-round pick, No. 95 overall, in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft at Calgary. It was a thrilling moment that forever changed his life.

After college, Dominic soon found himself in the Rangers locker room with Mark Messier, one of his childhood heroes. While some young players might have been intimidated by such a strong locker room presence, Dominic said he never let his NHL transition or new captain overwhelm him.

One reason the jump to pro hockey might not have been so scary for Dominic was the fact that he already had two brothers there. Yet despite this great family resource, Dominic said he wanted to make his own way in the league, and he tried not to burden his brothers with requests for advice.

Steve Moore's career was unfortunately cut short two years ago in an ugly incident that led to Todd Bertuzzi's one-year suspension. Later this season, Dominic will pass Steve in career games played, becoming the most experienced NHL player in his family.

He might be the last of the brothers still playing the pro game, but given Dominic's age and performance so far, it's safe to assume the Moore family will have an NHL connection for many years to come.
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