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    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    Conn goalie Sean Dynan made his return to the ice the best season of his career

    Connecticut College men's hockey goalie Sean Dynan, right, blocks a shot on goal from teammate Jon Barker during practice this week at Dayton Arena. Dynan, a senior who missed all of last season with a recurring ankle injury, is nominated for the prestigious Joe Concannon Award. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Connecticut College men's hockey goalie Sean Dynan, left, talks with teammate Jon Barker this week at Dayton Arena. The sixth-seeded Camels are headed to the NESCAC tournament Saturday to meet No. 3 Tufts. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    New London — Coming off a season-ending ankle injury a year ago after appearing in just one game, Connecticut College goaltender Sean Dynan is having the best season of his hockey career.

    On Feb. 8, Dynan was named as a semifinalist for the Joe Concannon Award, recognizing the best American-born hockey player in New England at the Division II/III level, and the Camels are headed to the playoffs in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

    “I haven’t been stressing about the small things this season,” Dynan said. “It’s probably my last year of hockey so I’m focusing more on having fun and letting loose. I’m not letting many things affect me mentally that I would have in the past.”

    In his senior season, Dynan, a Reading, Massachusetts, native already has a career best in saves (420), save percentage (.917) and goals-against average (2.51) for Conn (9-13-2), which will be the sixth seed in the NESCAC tournament and play at No. 3 Tufts.

    To go along with having a great statistical season, Dynan had a shutout against UMass Boston in the 58th Annual Codfish Bowl, where he took home the tournament trophy and the MVP. Head coach Jim Ward attributed his recent success to Dynan’s outstanding fundamentals, but to his innate toughness as well.

    “He’s our mentally toughest kid ... by far,” Ward said. “He’s not super athletic or super tall, but he does all the little things very well, the fundamentals.”

    Having been through the wringer in his college career, scarcely seeing the floor due to injury, Dynan had to develop thick skin if he wanted to recover. Throughout his hockey career, Dynan has had lingering issues with his ankle, eventually undergoing surgery after his second year at Conn.

    Unfortunately, he would reinjure the same ankle only a week into the following season. Due to constant concern over his availability, Ward, Dynan and the rest of the Camels’ staff thought it would be best to have him sit out the entire 2022-23 season.

    Ward said: “He played a period and a half in that (2022-23 season) and it didn’t go well at all. So, he ended up taking the year off to recover. I know that had to be hard for him but he persevered, worked hard all summer and came back better than ever for us this year.”

    A lingering injury like Dynan’s can be hard to evaluate. He explained that there were definitely instances of doubt, but keeping a level head helped him tremendously in his comeback.

    “I think the biggest thing for me was trusting the staff here and really buying into everything they told me in terms of diagnosis and treatment,” Dynan said. “There were times last year when I thought I would be making strides until I tried pushing myself a little and it didn’t feel as good as I’d expected.

    “I put in a lot of work with Mike the trainer and John Pirla (assistant strength and conditioning coach) over the spring and in the summer with my strength trainer at home Not really focusing on skating, more weights and stability work.”

    Through his long stint away from the ice, Dynan received tremendous support from his Camels family. He noted that the confidence his teammates gave him throughout his recovery process translated directly to his performance this season.

    “I can tell there’s a confidence that the team has in me, they’re excited to see me back in the net knowing what I went through last year,” he said. “(I was) playing for the team in that aspect; knowing they had my back definitely elevated my play this year.”

    Dynan, one of nine NESCAC players and three goalies from the league nominated for the Joe Concannon Award, said he is “probably” hanging up his Camels jersey after this season. A computer science major, Dynan is ready for what the world has to offer him. He has a general idea of what he wants to do with his degree, but he’s open to the possibilities.

    “I have nothing lined up at the moment, but I’m looking to live on the East Coast – Boston, New York, that sort of thing,” Dynan said. “I’m currently looking in data science, data analytics – I’m not very locked into one field. I’d rather keep my options open and maybe explore something new, who knows?”

    z.cunningham@theday.com

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