Feb. 24, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. - I first started playing hockey when I was 8 years old living in Rhode Island. From that time, I have never gone more than two weeks without lacing up the skates and setting foot on the ice. I've never had the dream of playing hockey in the NHL like some kids. I just wanted to be a Division I hockey player, and I have been lucky enough to play for such a prestigious and storied program at West Point.
I have played in USA Hockey National Championships and Select Festivals. I have won an Eastern Junior Hockey League Championship with the Jersey Hitmen. At West Point, we have beaten nationally ranked teams and defeated rivals like Air Force and RMC. These are all things that I will remember for the rest of my life. I knew that at some point my competitive hockey career would come to an end and that is something that I have been preparing myself for. As we are approaching the end of the regular season and about to embark on playoffs, the end is coming.
I am perfectly fine knowing that time has come. Hockey has given me a lot more than just the memories on the ice. To me, it is not just about the wins and losses, but rather about the friendships and bonds that I have made off the ice. My closest friends in life are the ones that I have made from playing hockey and those friendships will last a lot longer than any of my accomplishments on the ice.
Being on a hockey team, you spend a lot of time with your teammates. You spend countless hours in the locker room, on the bus traveling to games, and on the road in hotel rooms. The guys on the team become your best friends.
Coach Riley always talks about the Army Hockey Family. That really shows what we are about. I consider all the guys on the team to be my brothers. We have formed such a tight-knit bond that will last longer than our time here at West Point. The senior class at West Point is a little different than the other classes on the team. We are made up of 11 guys, which in college hockey is usually unheard of for a single class. Especially being at a school like West Point, you have the military aspect and you have to go through things such as Cadet Basic Training (Beast), which makes it a tougher situation than other college athletes.
I can still remember going through Beast and really second-guessing the choice that I made in coming to West Point. It was completely different from being a junior hockey player living on my own in New Jersey. Whenever things got tough that summer, I remember looking around and seeing that we were all going through the same thing and we needed each others' support.
The same guys helped me make it through that summer and my time here at West Point. They have continued to be here for me every step of the way at school and I know without having those guys by my side, I wouldn't have been able to make it to where I am today.
Whenever I take off the West Point jersey for the final time, it will definitely be tough, but I will have no regrets in my hockey career. I have been fortunate to play for as long as I have at such a high competitive level. The one thing that I will miss is the time spent with all the guys. When I sit in that locker room for that last time with the team, I will remember all of those special memories that we have shared as a team off the ice. I'm going to miss the family aspect of being part of a team and spending time with them. I know that the guys will always be there for me and that this bond that we share will continue for the rest of my life, and I will miss not having them around all the time
I wanted to thank all the players and managers (including classmates Will Rust and Jon Greaney) of 2012 for everything that they have done for me and for always being there for me. I know you guys will always be there for me in the future and I love every single one of you.
I thought I would end this blog by asking a couple questions to the seniors about their time here at West Point and take a prediction into what the future holds for us.
1. What has been the most memorable game/moment of your career?
Marcel Alvarez: most memorable game is when we beat #1 Miami (Ohio) at the Ohio State Tournament, most memorable moments are my first goal (against Air Force freshman year) and first shift with my brother (against Union)
Jack Barnes: Air Force
Danny Colvin: Beating Miami (Ohio)
Mark Dube: Outdoor game vs. AIC
Mike Hull: Air Force junior year, 5-4 win in their barn
Bret Larson: Orange/Lemon
Kyle Maggard: Playing in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio against Ohio State and Miami (Ohio), and beating Miami (Ohio)
Alex McCrae: Winning at home against Air-Force sophomore year
Pat Ryan: Most memorable game - Black/Gold game 2011-12 season, as Team Gold clinched the coveted inter squad trophy by a score of 4-1.....most memorable moment - first time putting on a Gold practice jersey
Bryant Skarda: When we beat Miami (Ohio) at the OSU Tournament
2. What does the Army Hockey Family mean to you?
MA: It's a family. You always have someone there to pick you up. You won't be judged, singled out, or left alone, one of the boys is always there for you regardless of the situation/circumstances.
JB: It's a group of guys I will always trust
DC: A brotherhood that goes beyond the rink into all aspects of life.
MD: Always having someone there no matter what
MH: Means a group of guys that are there for when you need them ... above all else
BL: Fun and friendship
KM: A family comprised of every player that has worn an Army jersey, every coach, trainer, manager and officer, that has supported the team game in and game out, and every family member that has sacrificed so much so that we can follow our dreams
AM: Being a part of a brotherhood that expands across the world and will never end
PR: Battle day Tuesdays, Take-It-Personal Wednesdays, Toe-drag Thursdays, game-day Friday/Saturdays, and most importantly Sunday Fundays.
BS: Brotherhood, Family, Friendship, History
3.What will you miss the most after you are done playing?
MA: I'll miss the road trips, the locker room and being with all the boys, the team lifts, obviously the games, battle days, I'll miss everything about hockey. The one thing I'll miss more than anything is that feeling of working your heart out for the guy next to you, and knowing he did the same for you, in pursuit of a common goal. That feeling of mutual sacrifice, passion, drive, and commitment to the team and for love of the game are going to be things that I really miss.
JB: Those days on the ice where you can't make a mistake and the game seems easy
DC: Home games in front of the fans
MD: Being in the locker room, and the boys.
MH: I'll miss the competition, locker room, and the feeling after a win
KM: The locker room. The feeling of brotherhood with the players in the locker room who give everything for the team
AM: Being on a team with 30 best friends
PR: Being the best "Scout" penalty kill unit in the country/reminding Coach Riley how many penalties he forgot to call during practice
BS: The boys, the home crowd, road trips, Battle Tuesday
4. Who is most likely to become a General?
MA: General Mark Renee Dube--the haircut gives him away.
JB: Marcel Alvarez
DC: Marcel Alvarez
MD: Danny Colvin
MH: Mark Dube, he's been wishing upon stars since he was born
BL: Kyle Maggard
KM: Marcel Alvarez
AM: Bret Larson
PR: General Jack Barnes has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?...I mean, name aside, Barnesy already has the General look going for him - he's tall, slender, talks very proper, and dresses like a senior citizen. He's sure on his way to stardom
BS: Marcel Alvarez
5. Who is most likely to make a Billion Dollars first?
MA: I have a feeling that most of the seniors will find their way to riches...but I'll say my top candidate is Maggs (Kyle Maggard). I'm sure Danny (Colvin) will find a way make a billion dollars. You can't count out the econ guys either (Jack Barnes and Mike Hull).
JB: Danny Colvin
DC: Bret Larson
MD: Bret Larson
MH: Jack Barnes, he loves money almost more than himself
BL: Patrick Ryan
KM: Danny Colvin, through marriage
AM: Jack Barnes
PR: Can I say myself? I'll be honest, being around these other 10 guys the last four years; I have yet to find anyone with bigger brains, motivation, or street-smarts than myself. Did I mention how humble I am as well?
BS: Danny Colvin...pure grease. He will somehow acquire it, no doubt
6. Who is most likely to get engaged next?
MA: I'm sure the other guys are saying it's me....however, I think Maggs (Maggard) takes this one too
JB: Mike Hull
DC: Marcel Alvarez
MD: Patrick Ryan
MH: Danny Colvin, believe it or not, he has a soft spot for cupid
BL: Marcel Alvarez
KM: Marcel Alvarez
AM: Marcel Alvarez
PR: Wouldn't wish this upon anyone, but unfortunately I think it will be Dan Colvin...for obvious reasons. Sorry buddy, I wish you luck, and God speed
BS: Marcel Alvarez
7. Most likely to be on a reality television show?
MA: If Scooter (Drew Pierson, Class of 2011) was on the team he takes this one...but I would love to see P-Ry (Patrick Ryan) on a reality show.
JB: Mark Dube
DC: Patrick Ryan
MD: Bryant Skarda
MH: Billy Day, is TRL still a show? If so he would make a great host.
BL: Billy Day
KM: Billy Day, The show Intervention for his addiction to fun dip
AM: Patrick Ryan
PR: Simple - Bret "Derek" Larson. Literally, the guy is a walking super star. If you were to talk with this guy for five minutes, you would realize exactly what I am saying. Luckily, I've been able to spend a lot of time with this guy, being practice defensive partners nearly all of the last three years. Larz - remember me when you're famous!
BS: Billy Day on Wipe Out, and Patrick Ryan on The Bachelor
Hope you enjoyed the questions and look to see everyone on Saturday night in the home finale vs. Sacred Heart as we honor our Seniors.
Get Big Low,
#23 Billy Day