Coaches' Tribune: Men's Ice Hockey

Coaches' Tribune: Men's Ice Hockey

Never Above You, Never Below You, Always Beside You

Never Above You, Never Below You, Always Beside You…As I look back on the 2019-2020 men's ice hockey season I can't help but reflect on how fitting our team's motto was this year, and in particular how fitting it is for our senior class. Eight-seniors (Philly, Drakey, J-Mac, Rochey, Barty, Soup, Zu, and Suda) entered Assumption four years ago and helped our program achieve its first ever NE10 ice hockey championship as freshmen. In any college sport, whether a top contender or bottom of the barrel team, divisions I, II, III, intramural or club, it is pretty rare for the same class to stay intact and survive four years together, never mind four very strong seasons. And it was so apropos that these same seniors clinched Assumption hockey's first regular season title on their senior night. It's hard to pick a defining moment or single story that culminates our senior class. However, despite the championship triumphs, 15-win seasons, and tough overtime (or triple overtime) semi-final losses, I am most proud of your character and ability to always raise the bar higher. Without a doubt you have left this program better than it was when you entered and for that I can't thank you enough. It is easy as your Coach to brag of your on ice achievements, but it's your off ice actions that I am most proud and privileged to have coached.

As freshman the eight of you got onboard and helped "everyone row the boat" to our first conference championship. While off the ice you helped combat cancer by raising thousands of dollars for Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and slowly started boosting our overall team GPA. There was no sophomore slump as you continued to elevate on the ice for our first 15-win season in years. Yet, it was the little things you continued doing off the ice like supporting our troops through the Lt. Scott Milley Fund, and crushing it in the classroom that made me constantly boast on your behalf.  In hindsight, I shouldn't have been surprised your junior year when you welcomed a large incoming first year class and helped them acclimate to the expectation of winning that Assumption hockey is all about. That triple overtime semifinal loss wasn't the outcome we wanted, but it was arguably the purest, cleanest, and best hockey game I have seen and been privileged to be a part of. Beyond individual recognitions on the ice and in the classroom, you collectively contributed to another outstanding cause by walking to end Alzheimer's and raising money for the Central Massachusetts Alzheimer's Association. Your efforts didn't stop there as you continued to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity and participated in the Working for Worcester community service events.

As I sit here writing this amidst a pandemic, I can't help but recall and share the words an alum gave me; Joe Lane Assumption class of 1960 told me "four years of high school is going to fly by, and college goes even quicker." Cliché as it is, time flies boys! Fast forward to your senior year. You nearly beat the number 1 ranked team in the nation, clinched a regular season championship, held the top male team GPA on campus, achieved our third consecutive 15-win season, and had Buffone Arena booming with Greyhound pride on what ended up being one of the last Saturday nights of the semester (A BIG THANK YOU TO HOUND NATION!).

More importantly, you continued to raise the bar in your off ice actions and make an impact outside of Assumption by welcoming Vinny DiPadua to our roster through a partnership with Team Impact. I can't fail to mention the successful fundraising for the SHINE Initiative at our benefit game and participation in the walk to prevent suicide allowed us to bond, work together, and achieve without wearing skates.

We were fortunate to have completed our season, but my heart breaks that you couldn't enjoy the home stretch of your senior year spring semester, you deserved this time together. As Coach Lance Brady instilled in me, it is a privilege to play college hockey, and I might add a privilege that not many get to experience, especially for four years together as a band of brothers like you guys. Continue to execute the little things because when you do the bigger things tend to take care of themselves. I have no doubt you will each achieve greatness beyond Assumption, and will always keep that bond you share strong. As you may have heard Coach Jenkins say before, "let's put the band back together", please know we will get the group together and celebrate you as soon as we are able. You have left clown size shoes for the incoming eight to fill. Please stay close and know that once a Hound always a Hound. #ProtectThePack #BleedBlue #GOHOUNDS!

-Head Men's Ice Hockey Coach, Michael Looney