Jimmy Dowd Jr., the son of 17-year NHL veteran Jim Dowd, made his college commitment to Penn State this week. The talented puck moving defenseman out of the NJ Titans organization has had quite a year from getting invited to the NTDP Evaluation Camp, getting drafted to Omaha Lancers (USHL) and, most recently, committing to college.
When asked what it was like growing up in a house with an NHL veteran; knowing that some NHL sons talk about it being tough to live in their father’s shadow. “Growing up with an NHL veteran as a dad was great! The best advice he ever gave me was to have fun with whatever you do, and the second it’s not fun anymore don’t do it. He prepared me for the future both on and off the ice by encouraging me to be the hardest worker at whatever I do, and most importantly to be a leader,” remarked the young Dowd; and fun is exactly what he is having when he steps out on that ice. “I love the sport of hockey and never want to stop playing.”
He played his High School hockey at Manasquan High School in New Jersey with his father behind the bench as Head Coach. Last season he made the move to midget hockey and played with the NJ Titans U16 under George Haviland and Randy Walker. “Being part of the NJ Tians last year was a season I’ll never forget. I am grateful for the opportunity that Coach Haviland gave me to showcase my skills among other talented player. Throughout the year both Coach Haviland and Coach Walker pushed me to be the best I could on and off the ice.”
After a highly touted season with the Titans, he got an invitation in the mail to attend the NTDP Evaluation Camp. His coaches had told him he was being considered throughout the year, but he wasn’t expecting anything. He considers the week at camp as the “best week of [his] life.” So we asked him about his experience and what he learned.
“The experience at the NTDP camp was one like no other. The passion that everyone had for hockey there was unreal. It was amazing being around the best players in my age group and seeing where I stood. I learned that I have to be more comfortable working on the blue line and develop more physically.”
He was not selected for the team, but the experience at camp sparked interest from USHL scouts including Omaha Lancers Assistant GM Rick Comley Jr. who drafted him a little over a month later in the fourth round of the USHL Futures Draft. He wasn’t sure where he would end up, but had an idea he’d hear his name called. “I received a few calls from USHL teams telling me that I was on their draft list, so I had an idea that I was going to get picked, but didn’t know where or when. My coach, Vinny Smith, texted me telling me Omaha was going to take me. I started to get anxious and then my dad received a phone call from the Lancers. He put me on the phone and that was when I officially learned I had been drafted by Omaha.”
With NTDP Camp and the USHL draft behind him, the skilled defenseman decided to figure out his college situation, as the process had already begun months before. “Schools started reaching out to me in the first couple months of my season. I visited Merrimack, Northeastern, UMass-Amherst, Yale, Princeton and Penn State.”
He received his first offer from Princeton but when Penn State offered him next he knew that was where he wanted to go. “I am beyond excited to play in the Big 10. Penn State is the perfect fit for me both from an academic and athletic standpoint.”
We asked if his father, who had played his college hockey at Lake Superior, had pressured him to going to the alma mater? “There was no pressure to go anywhere. He told me to enjoy the process and choose wherever my heart desired.”
While we have seen Jimmy since he was a bantam and have a pile of reports on his game, we thought it would be better for him to tell the Nittany Lions fans what kind of player they are getting with him. “I am quick, puck moving defenseman who enjoys joining the rush and getting up in the offensive play. I don’t back down from anyone, have vision and make good decisions.” We concur. He noted he’ll be working on his defensive game and trying to become a more complete player from now until he arrives.
Prior to his commitment, Penn State ranked in the top 10 for their 2018 recruiting class. His commitment will likely put them in the top 5 (rankings updated on Wednesday). Nevertheless, the Lions will inherit a skilled defenseman with an NHL bloodline who has the potential to run their power play in the future.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images