Like most college students will tell you, finals week is everyone’s least favorite time of the year. Whether you are getting set to head home for Christmas or working through until a winter weather escape somewhere warm, all students must grind through a week of no sleep, hair pulling, and cup after cup of coffee in order to “break on through to the other side” (on that note, thank you to The Doors for the countless hours of study tunes!).
All the hard work that you put into a class can be erased with one bad grade on a final exam or project. As in most cases, that one last assessment can count for as much as 40% of your final grade. Needless to say, tension around campus last week was evident in the air.
However, all of that is over now and while most college students have headed home to enjoy the company of family and friends awaiting their final grades, we student-athletes participating in a winter sport must take care of a little business before we depart next weekend. What business you may ask? For each team that business may have a little bit different meaning but for the Ice Griffs that goal is to beat Mercyhurst so we can all go home filled with festive spirit.
For me, the rivalry between Canisius College and Mercyhurst College did not heat up until the last two games of the 07-08 season. It was playoff time, a time in the season where there is no tomorrow for the losing team. With Mercyhurst finishing fifth and us finishing sixth in the regular season standings, we headed down to Erie, Pa. to face-off in a best-of-three game series. Anytime a team knocks you out and ends your season, it leaves a lump in your stomach; one that only time can heal (funny that half a year later, mine is still sitting there reminding of how much I dislike the Lakers!). With Mercyhurst taking the first game of the series 4-1, we found ourselves in a must-win situation and we came up short, losing 2-1 in overtime and ending our season.
The kind of defeat when one’s season comes to an end is known to many as the dark side of sports. As you return to the locker room and look around at the faces of your teammates, the realization that some of us have played our very last competitive hockey game begins to settle in. Anyone who says grown men don’t cry has not battled for 30-some games with their best friends. All the hard work, early mornings and sacrifice that you have given over the past eight months is transferred into the emotions on the men’s faces around you. For those who get a chance to return the following season, this is when that lump settles deep within your stomach.
When looking at the rivalry from Coach Smith’s standpoint, a former Lakers coach himself, the games between these two teams mean a lot. Coach Smith was part of the Laker Hockey Family for three years before departing to become the head coach of the men’s ice hockey team here at Canisius. Anytime a person gets the chance to go against their former team there is always extra attention given to ensure victory.
Given all the above information, I can assure you that this weekend’s games will be intense, hard-fought and full of something other then Christmas cheer. I encourage all hockey fans in the area to come and take in the action on Saturday December 20, at 4:05 p.m. at the Buffalo State Ice Arena. It is sure to be a fabulous way to get your hockey fix heading into the Holiday Season.
This is your captain here, over and out
Did You Know ...
• Susan Smith (Coach Smith’s wife) spent four years working for Mercyhurst College as a philosophy professor and was an academic board mentor?
Campus Chronicles and additional Canisius hockey coverage can be found each week in the Buffalo and Niagara area in the Metro Source. For previous entries plus additional Canisius features, visit Metro Source's website by clicking here