“Speak softly and carry a big stick — you will go far.”
Perhaps this West African proverb best describes the philosophy of Mike Maturo, junior co-captain of the Dartmouth men’s hockey team. Maturo’s hockey stick has indeed loomed large over opposing defenses this year, accounting for 26 points in 25 games. Maturo’s philosophy is to lead by example — and thus far, it has worked, as this Dartmouth team is one of the strongest in recent memory.
“I am not much of a vocal leader, but I would do anything to win, and I think [the team] sees it by the way I play,” Maturo said.
It’s all about the team for the Manchester, N.H., native, who was named Second Team All-Ivy last season — the only sophomore elected to either the first or second team.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to produce for the team,” he said. “When I don’t score on a Friday night, I cannot wait until Saturday to redeem myself. I want to be on the ice at all times.”
Maturo will be looking to make his presence known against the Bulldogs on Saturday night, when he will be looking to shoot the puck past his old friend from the Belmont Hill School, Yale goaltender Dan Lombard ’02.
“We need to put as many shots on Lombard as possible, knowing that he is a tremendous goaltender who can win a game by himself,” Maturo said.
And Lombard is well aware of the threat posed by the Dartmouth forward.
“He’s someone we really have to keep an eye on,” Lombard said. “He’s put a lot of weight on his frame [since arriving at Dartmouth] and become more of a presence. He’s really good in corners.”
The last time the two were on the ice together, Maturo netted one goal and one assist against Lombard, who is also impressed by Maturo’s leadership.
“He’s in a leadership position as a junior, which really says a lot about him,” Lombard said.
With the playoffs just around the corner and home ice at stake, Maturo will be looking to lead Dartmouth to first place in the regular-season ECAC standings.
Dartmouth is tied with Harvard for fourth in the conference, but is just four points behind first-place St. Lawrence. Still, Maturo feels the Big Green has not gotten the respect it deserves.
“I still feel teams think of us as an underdog, and we flourish in that role,” he said. “People do not realize the passion this team has to win. That, accompanied by an underrated skill level, gives our team as good a chance to win the ECAC as any other.”
In fact, he ranks the team’s accomplishments this season among the highlights of his career.
Before it reached the playoffs last season, the Big Green had not made the ECAC postseason in 20 years. Dartmouth won the Ivy League championship that season long ago but lost to Cornell in the ECAC championship game.
“[It’s been great] watching the progress of our team this year, showing that we are not the team of the past,” he said.
In seeking to prove the naysayers wrong, Maturo will look to use his big hockey stick to take the Big Green far into the playoffs.
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