Hanover — It didn’t take much soul-searching when Pat Doherty inquired about joining Dick Dodds’ coaching staff for the Hanover High boys hockey team, nor did it require any kind of interview process. Doherty’s presence behind the bench was a mutual understanding.
It helped that Doherty, who graduated from Hanover in 2009 and played four years of collegiate hockey at St. Lawrence University, already was integrated with the program and knew much about Dodds’ coaching philosophy. But joining the staff was less about getting his start behind the bench than a way to stay involved in the game he loved, working for a coach he has plenty of respect for.
“I’m good friends with the Dodds’. … We had talked about it this summer one night when I was over at their house,” said Doherty, who has settled into a job working for Advantage Capital Partners in Hanover. “I knew I was staying in the area. I told them I was staying and that I’d love to help out. Almost immediately they said, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ I sort of just jumped right in.”
A forward for most of his career, Doherty played for Les Rapaces de Gap Hautes Alpes in Gap, France last season, scoring nine goals, four assists in 26 games, including three goals and six assists in 11 playoff games. But the transition to coaching has presented Doherty with a different perspective on the game.
“There are things you don’t realize, like how to clearly explain yourself,” Doherty said. “You have to say things in a way that other people will understand, not just point things out. It makes me respect all the coaches I’ve ever had.
“You see someone do something and in your head, you see what they need to do,” he added. “But you have to describe it to be effective. … It’s all about figuring out a different side of the game. It’s a fun challenge to come into and no better person to learn under. Coach Dodds, he’s been very successful.”
Dodds is no stranger to having former players on his staff; Doherty remembers looking up to David Sutton, a Hanover alum who is now a project manager at Service Master in Boston, during his time with the Marauders. But Doherty, for the veteran Hanover coach, offers his team a unique perspective.
“He brings terrific knowledge and passion for the sport,” Dodds said. “He isn’t that far removed from wearing the Marauders jersey and he was one of the best leaders we’ve ever had. … It’s great for the current players to see you can work your tail off while you are playing for Hanover hand have success at the next level. Patrick is a great example of that.”
Doherty said he has primarily been working with Hanover’s forwards, a young group looking to replace the offensive production left behind by the absence of Seth Stadheim, last year’s top goal-scorer, and on the Hanover power play. Dodds said the assignment works well considering the type of player Doherty developed into.
“He was the type of player who would design face-off plays with his line mates,” Dodds said. “A center zone face-off that he created his freshman year was outstanding. It worked every time. We eventually added that play to our playbook and called it the ‘Doherty.’ ”
Doherty described his game as fast and puck-skill oriented, but also said he tried to bring a “cerebral” approach to the game, something that has paid dividends in his first few weeks back with Hanover. He graduated from St. Lawrence in 2015 and racked up 32 goals and 33 assists in his NCAA career.
“Just being someone they can talk to, about hockey or not hockey,” he said. “That’s what Dave (Sutton) did for me. You don’t always want to go to Dick Dodds with your problems because he’s your head coach. I just want to be there for those guys. Being able to pass down my knowledge of the game, it’s been really fun. I want to be there for these kids on and off the ice. Whatever it takes.”
It’s hard for Doherty to know if coaching is in his future, though he admitted the thought of taking on a varsity hockey team or even coaching at the collegiate level sounds like too much responsibility, at least at the moment. For now, he’s enjoying his return to Hanover with an eager mind to learn as much as he can about hockey from a much different perspective.
“Dick Dodds brings such passion to the game,” Doherty said. “He could have the most skilled team in New Hampshire or the least skilled team in New Hampshire and his teams would still be competitive. They always play at their highest potential. The way he can create a sense of team and community, I haven’t seen that anywhere else.
“I knew I wanted to stay involved in some way. For me, it’s always been in the back of my mind that down the road, when I had my own kids, I’d stay involved with youth hockey. I thought that would be the next step for me. I don’t want to stay involved just to stay involved. It was an easy decision to be back here.”