The bruised wooden boxes in the basement of the Dow family house look like they have been through combat. In front of them is an old hockey net, its posts dented and frail.
There is a tarp behind the net, but it is not wide enough to snag the bad misses. That is where the boxes get in the way.
Jordan Dow calls this space his “little Crosby area,” an ode to Pittsburgh Penguins star forward Sidney Crosby and the tale of his countless hours spent honing his shooting skills in his mother’s basement while she stomped her feet above with every miss, signaling her knowledge of his poor accuracy from the beating that her clothes dryer was taking from his errant pucks.
“That’s where it all starts,” said Dow, a senior center at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional. “I shoot post after post after post, work on a quick release, accuracy, to get the timing down. Once you have it, you can build off it.”
The basement may have been where it started, but the finished product has been glimmering on display at local hockey rinks all winter. With a sneaky wrist shot that has tormented goalies, Dow has scored 23 of Lincoln-Sudbury’s 51 goals through its 11-1-2 start.
In addition to his responsibilities as varsity hockey coach at Lincoln-Sudbury, Peter Elenbaas has been a longtime youth lacrosse coach, so he has seen Dow in action in that sport as well.
On the grass, Dow plays close to the same style as he does on the ice. He is slithery around the net and he knows how to finish.
Eight years ago, Elenbaas was leaving New England Sports Center in Marlborough with one of his hockey teams when Dow, in the fourth grade, walked in with his hockey bag.
“I was so excited,” Elenbaas recalled. “I didn’t know he played. I was like, ‘That kid plays hockey too? This is awesome.’ ”
Early on, though, Dow, an undersized child who is now about 5-foot-9, 155 pounds — Dow’s dad, Mike , compares him to Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau and Eagle alum/current Buffalo Sabre Nathan Gerbe — was unimpressive.
“I didn’t love it initially,” he said of hockey. “My dad kept pushing me to stick around and I remember holding on to the boards, watching these kids whiz by me and then I got that goal to be a successful hockey player, to be the best I could be — that goal to perform at the highest level, to push myself to see how far I could go and compete. It’s kept me going.
“I wasn’t the biggest kid, which meant I had to work a little harder than everybody else.”
Even for 6 a.m. weekend practices, Dow was always excited.
“When he was young, he just loved to be on his skates,” said Mike Dow, a sales manager for a printing company, who always taught Jordan the importance of simplicity.
“All he wanted to do was skate all the time. He never complained about going to the rink. Ever.’’
Lincoln-Sudbury senior Matt Hall, when asked to talk about his team, was a bit confused initially.
“Wait, which sport are you talking about?” Hall said. “Lacrosse?”
The Lincoln-Sudbury ice hockey team has not necessarily been bad, but it has not been elite, either. Not like its lacrosse team, which is a perennial contender to win it all behind the town’s stocked youth program and a crafty, intense leader, Brian Vona .
Not since Connor Quinn has the Warriors had a player like Dow who could carry the team whenever it needed a lift. Quinn was a standout forward but left the team before his senior year to pick up an additional two years at the Pomfret School in Connecticut. He is now playing at Bowdoin.
Dow’s sudden rise to statistical supremacy has reshaped Lincoln-Sudbury’s outlook.
“We’ve been good in the past,” said Elenbaas. “But we haven’t had this. Now we have an incredible senior class, a star goal-scorer, and a really good goalie’’ in Erik Kessler . “It’s a lot different.”
Area hockey coaches agree that Dow has been a top-tier player for years, but this season something changed.
“He’s taken it to a whole new level, that’s for sure,” said Waltham coach John Maguire .
Dow is not sure what happened, but said he is more relaxed when playing, simply trying to enjoy his time on the ice.
Following the passing of Scott Milley, a 2005 Lincoln-Sudbury graduate who died in 2010 while serving his country in Afghanistan, Dow helped organize the Warriors 4 Warriors game this winter, raising more than $15,000 for Milley’s family and the Massachusetts Military Friends Organization. And after sophomore Matt Hall (no relation to the senior Matt Hall) returned to the team after a battle with leukemia, there has been a bond that Dow’s presence has only enhanced.
“He’s such a great captain,” said fellow senior Owen Maron . “He’s really good, but he’s not cocky at all.”
Said Mike Dow: “We always encourage our children to be humble and work hard.”
Dow plans on spending a postgraduate year somewhere locally while waiting for his college options to expand.
There is always room to grow, he figures.
Now, back to the basement.
Framingham says thank you to Brown
Bobby Brown thought he was ready to retire in 2000 when Framingham varsity coach Paul Spear asked him to join his coaching staff. Brown declined, but three years later when another job opened up, Spear asked again, and Brown could not say no.
“It started in the 1960s — he was the person involved with the evolution of Framingham youth hockey,” Spear said. “He just loves hockey, loves being at the rink, being a part of it. He just became this grandfather-type guy down at the rink where it seemed everybody knew him.”
Brown coached on Spear’s staff from 2003 to this winter, when he was finally forced to hang up the skates following a battle with prostate cancer.
Framingham honored the longtime coach with a pregame ceremony and plaque before Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Braintree at Loring Arena.
“Too many times we allow people to finish up and then say thank you too late or don’t say it,” Spear said. “Nobody wants a plaque when they’re gone.”Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.