DALTON JAY REACHES ANOTHER MILESTONE
Throughout his hockey career, Dalton Jay has always been a goal scorer. He’s proven himself to be one of the FPHL’s all-time great scorers this season, notching his 200th career goal and passing Justin Brausen for 3rd in league history. Next up in a season of milestones, Jay plays in his 300th FPHL game. “It hasn’t hit me yet,” Jay said. “To me, it’s just another game but it’s a big milestone. To play 300 games shows that you can play in the league and you can also play at a high level.”
After his senior year at Westfield State University, Jay caught the tail end of the 2015-16 SPHL season with six games split between the Fayetteville FireAntz and Louisiana IceGators. The following season, he saw his first action in the then-FHL. “I was at Roanoke’s camp but I was released from there,” Jay said. “I didn’t have anywhere to go so I reached out to Danbury and on my way back, they said ‘come on up’ so I stopped there and did training camp with them. Next thing you know, I was in the FPHL.”
Jay led the Titans with 70 points that season and was one of two players to eclipse 30 goals. He also made some connections that turned out to have a big impact on the rest of his career. “I walked in the locker room for the first time and Matt [Graham] was sitting beside me in the stalls and we just hit it right off,” Jay said. “Alex [Johnson] was a couple of stalls over, then we ended up living in the same house all year. It just became a big friendship from there. It was a great connection that the three of us had and it’s something that’s lived on.”
The first of his 31 goals in his rookie campaign came in his first game and is one that the three remember together. “Alex and Matt both tease me with it,” Jay said. “It was against Berlin in Danbury and I probably had about seven breakaways that game and I only buried on one and it was the OT winner. It was pretty cool to be my first professional goal but also relieving that I finally scored on a breakaway.”
The Titans folded and Jay found himself in Carolina after the dispersal draft. It wasn’t a perfect fit and after six games, he was on the move again, rejoining his friends in a new place. “It just worked out,” Jay said. “We were at a team bowling event and Graham texted me and said ‘do you want to come play in Port Huron?’ I was in shock, I said ‘you’re there, why wouldn’t I?’ He said ‘you’re on the chopping block, the trade block essentially, but do you want to come play here?’ I said ‘yeah, absolutely’ and the next day, I was traded and on my way up.”
After a strong rest of the 2017-18 season, Jay exploded the next year with career-highs of 43 goals, 67 assists and 105 points. “Everything just seemed to go the right way,” Jay said. “I was playing with Matt Robertson, who was a great player, very smart, and Zach Zulkanycz was our centerman. He was a big body that opened up the ice. It seemed that we knew exactly where each other was and it all just clicked.”
Robertson was the Prowlers’ other 100-point man that season with 102 while Zulkanycz finished with 68 points.
That season jump-started a career that’s made him a household name in Port Huron. He’s the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 172 goals and 350 points in a Prowlers uniform. The 31-year-old pass his former linemate, Robertson, in both categories last year.
His 2022-23 campaign is off to a strong start. He takes a team-high 12 goals and 21 points into his milestone game on Dec. 9, including that memorable 200th tally. “It puts me up with some good players,” Jay said. “As players, you set goals for yourself and for the longest time it wasn’t anything that I was looking at but then it was brought up to me that I was only five goals away. I said ‘wow, that would actually be really cool’ and then I did it. To do it here, at home, was even more special.”
After all these accomplishments and records, it’s fair to ask ‘what more can he do?’ One thing left on the checklist is a Commissioner’s Cup which he continues to chase with Graham, Johnson and the rest of the Prowlers in a place he’s made home.