Puck Drops for New Ice Hockey Team
For the first time in over 20 years, the Fighting Scots are represented on the ice in intercollegiate competition.
After a 10-page proposal, meetings with administration, and Gordon College Student Association’s defining hockey as a varsity club, the fledgling team has catapulted from a non-checking “beer league” (as some team members have dubbed the New England Senior Hockey League) to the American Collegiate Hockey Association. In place of the Cambridge Fire Department, Gordon now competes with the likes of Harvard, St. Anselm and WPI, among others in the ACHA DII.
“The teams that we’ll be playing have DI programs in the NCAA. So the people we’ll be playing against either got cut or didn’t make that team. They’re basically on reserve for the NCAA team,” says Gordon Club Ice Hockey co-captain Kyle Hayes ’17.
The action begins this Saturday at 8 p.m. at the year-old Raymond J. Bourque Arena at Endicott College in Beverly, just down the street. But Gordon isn’t skating into their opening game versus Suffolk without heightened preparation.
“We will experience a much faster-paced game than before. So what we’ve tried to do early on is emphasize positional play, making and executing quick decisions with the puck, and becoming better at passing and cycling with the puck in general,” said new Head Coach Paul D’Ambra.
The Scots roster includes experienced players from strong hockey programs at Hebron Academy, Dexter Academy and Tilton Academy, as well as varsity high school players from the “hockey hot bed,” as co-captain and goaltender Luke Tremblay ’20 deemed New England.
Co-captain Hayes expressed little worry of whether or not the team will be talented enough to stay in games at a higher level. Right now, the priority is establishing unity and camaraderie amongst the players. “We’re trying to match our lines together and figure out who works well with who. We’ve only had a few practices, so our first game is going to be a pretty big surprise,” said Hayes.
Coach D’Ambra is up for the challenge of not only matching lines but also getting a new program off the ground; his new position, he says, is an opportunity to combine his love for the sport and his desire to mentor college students.
“I’ve loved hockey my entire life. My dad told me bedtime stories about hockey legends from as young as I can remember. I played competitive hockey in my youth and men’s league hockey since college as both a forward and a defenseman ,” he said.
A few weeks into the season, Coach D’Ambra is proud of his players sacrificing their time to acclimate to the higher level of competition, as the team leaves campus for practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 p.m. and doesn’t return until around midnight.
Assistant coach, former player and key leader in Gordon Club Ice Hockey becoming an intercollegiate program Joe Iriana ’16 (pictured left) doesn’t take their promotion for granted. “We’re actually playing real hockey now and my guys realize that,” Iriana said.
A perfect storm of talent and leadership has coalesced to make playing in a “small-time NHL rink feel” environment, as Hayes likened their new home, a reality. “Going into our first game I’ve been trying to push my teammates as hard as possible at practice so we are prepared for Saturday. Being new to the league, it is important we set the tone and gain respect from the teams we play,” co-captain Tremblay said.
The inaugural puck drops at 8 p.m. at Endicott’s Bourque Arena in Beverly as Gordon faces Suffolk on Saturday, October 1.
By Dan Simonds ’17, communication arts