Joe ‘Toe’ Nutting is nearing the end of his time at Keene State

Keene State Ice Hockey will soon be saying goodbye to respected teammate and leader, senior and co-captain, Joe Nutting.

Nutting got his start in the sport when he was just a toddler. “My dad put me in skates [when I was three] in the backyard. He had a makeshift rink, it was more just a flooded tarp but… I think that’s the earliest memory I have,” Nutting said. He began playing on an ice hockey team at just four years old.

“My dad used to take me to the local rink and I would watch the local teams play, just as a little kid, and I remember I’d be sitting there all day long, trying to collect pucks and sticks and– I don’t know, I kind of just ran with it from there. It was sort of love at first sight,” Nutting explained.

One of Nutting’s favorite things about hockey is getting the chance to meet new people that he has been able to connect with on his journey, no matter their differences. He has played with people from one state over, as well as people from different continents. “It’s definitely a cool thing to get to meet new people… not people that you’d expect you’d ever get to meet in your lifetime, just being from New Hampshire, it’s a small area, and then all of a sudden you’re hanging out with Russian kids, it’s a whole different experience. I think that’s definitely a unique part of hockey,” he said.

Nutting started his college career at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, but it wasn’t quite the right fit for him. In addition to hockey, he also plays on the lacrosse team. Nutting expressed that he had wanted to be able to continue on in both of those endeavors, “Keene seemed like a great fit to be able to do both, so it really worked out well.”

When asked if he sees any future for himself in hockey, Nutting candidly said, “I think every kid would tell you that if they had a chance, they’d take that chance. But, realistically, this is probably the end of the road for me.”

With the setbacks that occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nutting is simply excited to have the chance to play with his teammates. “Based on the circumstances [due to COVID], I’m very happy with how it’s going. It’s awesome to get to play games and to get to start to know everyone as a player more than as a person.”

Nutting was given the responsibility of being a captain for his team this season. When asked if he came into the season with any goals in mind, he said, “My goal would’ve been to carry that responsibility as it should be carried. Keeping kids out of trouble, making sure kids are at practice, sort of leading by example. It all kind of comes with the territory, comes with the job title.”

“We want to make the national tournament… Now that we’ve played some games and seen the competition, I think it’s a very reasonable and feasible goal… This year we definitely just want to be able to make it there,” Nutting added.

Ice Hockey Head Coach Bobby Rodrigue and Ice Hockey President Aaron Harmon both said that Nutting is a great asset to the team.

“Joe is clearly one of our strongest players. He’s one of our most experienced athletes, and he’s one of our captains because he’s viewed as a leader,” said Rodrigue.

“He’s a really funny character that the team loves, that we need. He brings an important piece to the captaincy…” said Harmon.

With the responsibilities of being a fifth-year student and a team captain on two sports teams, Nutting has a lot on his plate. When asked how he handles it, Rodrigue said, “Joe is a really calm kid. He has really good composure and he kind of keeps things pretty evenkeeled. My guess is that there are times when the work–school–LAX [Lacrosse|–Hockey balance can be stressful… it doesn’t seem that way with him. I’m sure it is [stressful] at times, but he keeps things pretty level. The reality is, now that he’s a senior and a leader on this team, and a senior and a leader on his other team, I think the way that I treat him and the way that Mark [Theriault] treats him is the way we would treat all seniors and leaders and upperclassmen, and things like that. So I think that kind of helps, that he’s able to navigate things pretty smoothly that way.”

Rodrigue said, “It’s easy sometimes for there to be a separation between your upperclassmen and your newer players and I was really fearful that could be the case with this group. Joe has really been outstanding with them. Frankly, all three [the captains] of them have been just terrific in taking the new guys in and showing them the ways and really supporting them.”

Harmon said that Nutting is a determined and caring athlete. “He wants to win, anything to win is what Joe will do. As far as taking time out of his day to make sure everyone’s fine and doing well, he’s always done that… He just does anything he can to win.”

When asked if he has any goals for Nutting before his Owl career is over, Rodrigue said, “I think Joe has some benchmarks in his mind in terms of point production and point performance. The reality is, two springs ago, Joe was on a really, really good lacrosse team and a really, really good hockey team. Both got robbed of tournament runs. So really, for me, my goal is for Joe to have what I would expect to be a traditional senior year experience on our hockey team. I want the team to have success and I want Joe to be a part of that, and I want that to be his memory when he leaves.”

There are a couple different words that Nutting’s team could use to describe him.

“Joe Nutting in one word… ‘poised’. He tries to do everything with style. Everything needs to be perfect for Joe… or ‘perfectionist’. There’s a lot of words that describe Joe, I don’t know if I can choose just one,” said Harmon.

“I guess I should tell you his nickname here is ‘Toe’. Coach Porter and I nicknamed him ‘Toe’ his first year with us because his favorite thing is what we call a toe drag, which is basically the very front of your stick– the edge of your blade is called the toe, there’s the heel and the toe of your blade and he loves to toe drag. That’s his move. So that’s the nickname he got stuck with, so I guess the one word we could use to describe him is ‘toe-y’,” said Rodrigue.


Piper Pavelich can be contacted at


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