Its Roll Up The Rim time at Tim Hortons and for a lot of Canadians, that is a good indication that the hockey playoffs have drawn near. Growing up and heading through various forms of the junior hockey ranks, the guys on the team have joked about how late February/early March is not the time of the year when champions are made, but instead, it is the time in which we might win big with the purchase of a coffee! All joking and potential winnings aside, the guys know very well that a win at Tim Hortons does not give you the same feeling as winning it all on the ice...even if it is a $10,000 cash prize or 2009 Toyota Venza!
The funny thing about playoffs is it doesn’t matter what your team has done during the regular season. Eight teams have the same perfect record now and all it takes is for one team to get hot and win four games to be crowned Atlantic Hockey Association Champions and earn the coveted berth in the NCAA Tournament. While our games throughout the regular season have taught us a lot about ourselves and the game of hockey, our team has been given the opportunity to take what we have learned over the past six months and use it to our advantage. We have had ups and downs as a team over the 2008-2009 regular season, courtesy of some weekend sweeps and shorthanded goals against...and just about everything in between. As the captain of the Ice Griffs, I know that it is partially my responsibility to make sure that all the boys are on the same page when our series versus Bentley opens up on Friday, March 13 (yes folks, Friday the 13th!) We are four wins ways away from the entering into the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history and more importantly, we are four victories from winning our first Atlantic Hockey Championship together. All the sacrifice and hard work will come down to this weekend. In this best-of-three series, the winner will travel to Rochester the following weekend to face-off in the AHA semifinal...and the loser will head off to their destinations of choice for spring break.
For most hockey players participating in the NCAA, spring break allows us to take a break from the schoolbooks and focus our minds solely on hockey. With the hopes of making it far enough into playoffs, most guys do not make plans to head off on vacation like most college students do. Instead the destination of choice is the location where the conference championship will be held. It may not be as sunny or warm as Florida or Mexico, but a lot of men will take the chance to win a championship over any beach. While I wish my fellow students safe travels and many enjoyable days (and nights) over the break, I certainly wouldn’t trade the journey I am about to embark upon with my teammates for any amount of days on the beach. I know that sacrificing what is seen to many as a college student’s rite of passage will be worth every lost ray of sun if I can hoist our championship trophy over my head with my fellow Griffins.
In hockey, similar to a lot of sports, the chance of having the same team together for two consecutive years is very slim. Players graduate, recruits join, and some players leave because of personal reasons; that is just the cycle of sports. For a lot of the guys on the team, we are like family to each other, seeing as how we spend so many hours together over the season. It’s just another reason why we will scratch and claw for one another in the upcoming weeks, because knowing that the locker room will never be the same sends shivers down a lot of spines. I know that our team is ready, committed and willing to do whatever is necessary to win the Atlantic Hockey Association Championship as a unit, one that will never have this opportunity again.
This is your captain here, over and out
As my loving sister and her beloved St. Lawrence Saints take on the Mercyhurst College Lakers in the NCAA Tournament, I would like to send the hockey gods their way. As much as I would like for her to be in Rochester with the Ice Griffs, I know that she and the Saints would like nothing more then to be in the Frozen Four in Boston.
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