There is no doubt in my mind that UMass Boston is on the rise. As a student athlete here, I couldn’t hand pick a better place to be. With the university chalk full of plans, and a team with a promising future, it’s exciting to experience it first hand.
Personally, the year as a whole has surprised me day in and day out. Leaving New Hampshire, I had no real expectations of anything. Amongst many unknowns, there were a few things I did know: (1) There was an opportunity, and (2) I was going to have to work for it. Like I said in my write up earlier this year, the transition was very open and comfortable socially, and academia held its usually standards, gen-ed’s and following the yellow brick road to your degree. On the ice was where I desired to meet the potential I knew I possessed, something I’ve struggled with in my collegiate career. With two existing goalies that had been the glue of the team on and off the ice, I was a bit unsure of my role. It wasn’t until mid-December that I felt a rhythm and was able to settle my play. Benchmarks such as a shutout tie at Trinity, a home tie vs. Final Four team St. Thomas of Minnesota, followed up by a league 1-0 win over St. Anselm were just the fuel I and we needed. During J-Term, we also won our first title as Cod Fish Bowl champions, which is an annual Beanpot type tournament that we host. From November until the middle of January, we hadn’t lost a single game.
The road to playoffs was up and down but steady enough to land us a middle of the pack seed. We traveled to Manhattanville, a team notorious for previously knocking us out all in a days work. Little did they know we had other plans. We walked away with a quarterfinal victory 3-0, ending their season. No matter how far we made it, it was inevitable we would face Norwich at one time or another, and that was exactly the match up the following weekend. We were thrilled. We knew more about our potential than any USCHO, fan forum, etc., write up could have ever predicted. Only true UMB fans (ours moms and dads) that saw the way our team played this year knew our potential and we loved that. The underdog role suited us well. We pulled up to Northfield, Vermont a confident, ready, mature team and we proved that. Scoring late in the third to tie their hard earned 1-0 lead was the most excited I had ever felt in all of my hockey years. We scored in Beacon style, working to keep the puck in zone, though it was late in a shift, supporting one another, being aware, and finished with grit. In my opinion, the Beacons are a model team for how the little things add up. Credit is definitely given to our coaches who had us so prepared that we were able to eliminate the doubts and play to win in both playoff outings. It is amazing what the right combination of coaches and players can do for a place. I’ve seen teams struggle with that this year and thank God that we don’t face huge issues like that.
On a personal note, this year was so fulfilling to me as a young adult. I do love to write about my teammates and tell a story about the teams I am on, and integrate my own story into that. For those who don’t know, my dad moved to Vermont last September, taking on the role as Norwich’s team doctor. Its been wonderful to see him just enjoy life and work in his new environment, while mom is the rock for the family at home in Swampscott. For dad and I to go through such a change “together” has been so poetic and full circle for me. I too made the change come September and have found happiness and a better way of life in the transformation. Looking up into the stands and seeing him and my mom, I know what its taken for them to find the right combination of lifestyles for it to work, yet there they have been for me, in the stands, year after year. They never wavered and I am forever thankful for that. For all that our struggles have been worth, we are all okay and we are all in just the place we are meant to be. I am blessed to have the family I have who makes it work day after day, in far from normal circumstances, and have allowed me to grow and make decisions for my life that have brought me here. As one of my favorite reporters from home said, it’s about the journey, not the destination.