Every young hockey player dreams of playing in the NHL, right? For St. Lawrence University forward Alexander Dahl ’17, things were a little different. As he recalls, “I grew up going to (Minnesota) Gopher games and (Wisconsin) Badger games. I always knew I wanted to play college hockey. That was more of a dream than the NHL, really.”
As fate and hard work would have it, two years after leaving his home of Eau Claire, Wisconsin to play hockey for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL, Alexander found himself being recruited by NCAA Division 1 hockey teams, and a choice needed to be made. Enter SLU.
“I realized that I’d rather go to a smaller school, one where I could focus more on academics than a big 10 school. The second I stepped on campus at St. Lawrence I fell in love in with it” he fondly remembers. “I fell in love with how invested the community was into the hockey program. You could just feel the tradition and the love the people had for the hockey program, and that’s something I wanted to be a part of.”
During his visit, Alexander immediately noticed the tight-knit bond that sports teams enjoy while at St. Lawrence. “I was shocked that all the guys went to Dana (Dining Hall) together and filled two tables” he said, adding that “There’s not people living a couple miles away from each other (like bigger schools). You’re seeing the same guys on campus that you’re going to battle with. I could tell how close the team was right away.”
St. Lawrence is often heralded for the uniqueness and quality of its on-campus housing, something that Alexander has been able to take full advantage of. As is tradition, the First Year Program (FYP) program assigns students to freshman dorms, grouped together by interests and likes. That year, Alexander became fast friends with several members of the Men’s basketball team. Now they’re roommates.
As he likes to describe it: “We’re a pretty eclectic group with who we hang out with. I live with one other hockey player, Eric Sweetman, and then we live with four other basketball players. So that’s fun, because we’re really invested in their season and they’re invested in ours. We have a good time together.”
It's also been a great learning experience. While ice hockey is the only NCAA Division 1 sport at SLU, Alexander credits his living situation for providing a glimpse into the life of a Division 3 athlete. “They may be D-3 athletes but they’re putting in just as much effort as we are. And I think that’s across the board with all sports at St. Lawrence” he says. “The dynamic of being a D-1 sport and they’re in a D-3 sport, you can tell the differences in the programs. But at the same time, we’re still wearing the Scarlet and the Brown together, we’re still fighting for the same school. You can tell that St. Lawrence cares just as much for the D-3 programs as they do the D-1 programs.”
Over the course of a four-year career, Alexander amassed 31 points in 118 games. He is on track to graduate this spring with a combined major of mathematics and economics, and a minor in statistics. So what’s next for the former class of 2017 Ronald C. Hoffmann First Year Scholar-Athlete winner? “Any opportunity that felt right (to play professional hockey), I would definitely jump on that. But part of me really wants to get my career started. Right now I’m pursuing a career in finance,” Alexander describes. “I’ve made two trips down to New York. It’s just insane to see how willing and able alums are to help you out. Everyone I’ve met, they’re obviously huge hockey fans and interested in the program. I heard one person say ‘When you graduate, you’re basically joining a cult, that’s how close the St. Lawrence network is.’ I’ve definitely seen that just from a couple trips to New York.”
But all that can wait a few more months. Or years if the right opportunity in hockey comes about. So, for a kid who dreamed of playing college hockey, what was Alexander’s favorite on-ice memory during his time representing St. Lawrence? “Beating Clarkson to go to Lake Placid last year” he immediately responds. “To be able to end their season was awesome. I think all the anticipation going into that week and the preparation we put into it…everyone was just dialed in. To be able to capitalize and execute like we did was just the best.”
Spoken like a true Larry.