As the preseason gets underway, Northeastern hockey is back at Matthews Arena and all eyes are fully focused on the October 2nd season opener against Bentley. Ahead of the season kicking off, we had a chance to interview two of the most dynamic and exciting players on the team, brothers Dylan and Ty Jackson. The sophomore sensations will be looked at to lead the Huskies’ top line again this season.
NU Hockey Blog– You guys were two-thirds of arguably the Huskies’ most productive line last season with Gunnarwolfe Fontaine. What was it that contributed to the chemistry and success you three had last year?
Dylan Jackson: Q1- Obviously, I have played with Ty my entire life, so I have a pretty good understanding of how he plays, I know where he likes to go, and they type of style he plays. I think Gunnar plays a similar style, as he is very fast and uses his pace down the wing and on the forecheck. I also feel Ty and I like to be playmakers and Gunnar was more of a shooter.
Ty Jackson- I think that right from the beginning of the season Dylan and I had a bit of an advantage being able to play with each other. Obviously we’ve been playing together our entire lives so we already have that chemistry foundation, and we quickly found that gunnar plays a similar style. Gunnar is a hard working player who plays the game at a fast pace and has a great goal scoring and play making ability. Dylan and I strive when we push the pace of the game and enjoy moving the puck a lot, so Gunnar was a great fit with the two of us and I think we clicked right away because we could all play any role that was necessary that shift, whether it was a hard forecheck, back check, a passing play, or finishing a play.
NUHB– Huskies fans (ok, maybe just us) have been saying that you two are the Northeastern version of the Sedin twins, playing together through juniors and then bringing your games to NU. I’m sure you guys get asked this a ton, but what helps drive the success you have when playing together? What is your favorite part about playing with your brother?
DJ- I push myself to be as good as my brother and I think he does the same to me. We compete to get better every day, whether that’s in the gym or on the ice he is always pushing me. I love playing with him because I think he is just a great player all around. I can always count on him to score around the net, make the right plays nearly 100% of the time and be smart defensively. I think he plays a very unselfish game which makes the game of hockey so much more fun.
TJ- We have heard the Sedin twin comparison plenty of times growing up and it is truly an amazing compliment and Dylan and I would be very happy to accomplish half of what those two did in their careers, but I think the driving factor in our success as players is the fact that we push one another. It sounds cliché but Dylan is one of the hardest working players I’ve played with, so being able to train day in and day out with him pushes me to be better. Along with this, we care a lot about each other’s careers and if I ever see Dylan performing at a level that I think isn’t up to his standards I am definitely not afraid to let him know. And Dylan has the exact same mentality towards me; we demand a lot out of one another.
NUHB– The team obviously had a bit of a shake-up with Coach Madigan taking the Athletic Director position and Coach Keefe being promoted to Head Coach. What has the first summer and start of fall been like with Coach Keefe at the helm?
DJ- Obviously, it sucks losing a great coach in Madigan, but Coach Keefe is a phenomenal coach and so far, the transition has been great. Coach Keefe played hockey at a very high level, and I am learning new things from him every day. I know he is the best of the best and I am excited to get the season started!
TJ- The first summer and fall has been exceptional. The transition was smooth because Coach Keefe has been very involved in this program for so many years, and although I’m sure that all of the guys will miss seeing Coach Madigan around the rink everyday, Coach Keefe is a very intelligent hockey mind and a great coach and will continue to push this team in the right direction towards success.
NUHB– Where do you see yourself taking your game this year on an individual level? What are your individual goals for the season?
DJ– The biggest thing this year coming back is confidence. I know what to expect from the league and how high the level of hockey is. Over the summer I got a bit stronger and continued to work on my skills. My goals for the season are to take another step in my game and try to be more effective in helping our team win games. Whether that’s offensively or defensively.
TJ- I hope to improve my all around game. I believe that I have plenty of room to grow as a player and I think that I took a big step by improving my strength this summer with the help of our strength and conditioning coaches here at Northeastern. As a result, on the ice I am looking to improve in all three zones, whether that means chipping in more consistently offensively, or performing better on face offs, which was one of my weak points last season. I also would like to speak up more within the room and try to lead a bit more off the ice, especially for the young freshman group we have this season.
NUHB– You guys are now veterans at Northeastern with a year under your belt. How does that shape your mindset and help as you go into your second year as both players and students? What advice are you able to pass to the freshmen this year?
DJ- I feel as a veteran I am more comfortable on the ice and around my teammates. I know what college hockey and school is about, so I am more confident in myself. I think the best advice to the freshman is to just be confident in themselves as they are on this team for a reason.
TJ- I feel more comfortable this season. Experience has always been a key for my confidence and comfort within a team and I hope to feel more confident and comfortable in class and at the rink this season. Since day one I’ve been trying to help the freshman feel more comfortable because I know how difficult it can be as a first year player, and my main advice to them is to stick with their game and to not be afraid to make mistakes on the ice and to ask me any questions they have.
NUHB- The 2021 season is expected to be quite different from 2020 in many ways, including fans returning, players coming back when they would usually have graduated, non-conference games returning, and of course, the Beanpot returns. What are you most excited for this season?
DJ- I am most excited to be playing in front of fans and playing in the Beanpot. Playing with fans makes the game more exciting and alive. Obviously the Beanpot is something that I have been ready to play in for a long time as well!
TJ- I am very excited to experience my first Beanpot, and to travel with the team to Switzerland, and to play some out of conference teams, but for me, what I am most excited about is the return of fans. The only feeling that is better than winning games in front of passionate fans and an electric atmosphere is, silencing the fans in an away building and leaving on a bus with 2 points. I can’t wait to experience both of those things next season.
We thank both Dylan and Ty for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions, and we thank NU hockey SID Sky Kerstein for helping to connect us with the Jackson twins. As it stands, the Jacksons are expected to be two key forwards in the Huskies’ top six this year, and they clearly have the drive and mentality to improve on their stellar first season. We can’t wait to see them this season on the ice.
Stay tuned for more interviews and content from us as the season approaches. As always, go Huskies!