Inserting a new head man at the helm of your hockey program is a moment teeming with excitement and optimism. Especially when that coach is an iconic figure in the New Jersey hockey community and possesses a National Hockey League pedigree.
Such is the case for the cooperative Manasquan and Point Beach hockey program, as Jim Dowd confirmed on Wednesday night that he would be taking the reins as head coach for the forthcoming 2014-15 season.
"I'm just as excited about this as I was about playing in the NHL," said Dowd, a 17-year NHL veteran, six years removed. "If it wasn't for New Jersey hockey I wouldn't be where I am. I'm really looking forward to this opportunity."
Dowd, a resident of Point Pleasant with two sons in the Point Beach school system said "this is something that's been talked about for a little while, but we're [the Dowd family] not going anywhere . . . the time is right to do this."
Dowd takes over a program that captured the Shore C crown in the 2010-11 season, but has finished near the bottom of the Class B South standings since the Shore Conference restructured its divisional alignment in 2012.
However, the Brick Township high school hockey legend, who led the Green Dragons to the 1985-86 NJSIAA title, is focused less on wins and losses and more on instituting a greater sense of pride around the Manasquan/Point Beach ice hockey family.
"I want to help create a culture here," said Dowd, a 1995 Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils. "I enjoyed four years of baseball and hockey at Brick and am grateful for all my teachers, coaches, and teammates. I want to help create that sort of atmosphere, an atmosphere of pride, around this program."
"This goes way beyond sports," Dowd said about his mission. "While playing high school hockey I was surrounded by great coaches and players, but they're also great people. We're going to be a team that does things the right way, in practices, in games, but off the ice as well. It's all about being good people, being disciplined, and doing the right things."
What Dowd provides the Manasquan/Point Beach program, besides a wealth of hockey knowledge, is instant respect and credibility in the Shore Conference. But it also mounts a target on the team's back. Regardless, come December, the exhilaration surrounding the Manasquan/Point Beach program will be immense.
Until opening night, Dowd also will focus on the Shoot For The Stars Game, a benefit game between two Shore Conference All-Star teams. According to Dowd, the game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Aug. 3 at the Red Bank Armory.