When I first came to Castleton State College in 2007, people said that the men’s hockey team was the pride of CSC sports. The year before that, second-year coach Alex Todd guided the team to a 17-win season and a national ranking of 11 with United States College Hockey Online. They still seem to reign supreme. You don’t believe me?Castleton hockey went 0-44 in its first two seasons as an NCAA Division III program until Coach Todd took over for the 2005-2006 campaign. Since then, the program has gone 49-45-11, has had 38 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference All-Academic members (leading the ECAC the last four seasons), and has had two All-Americans. However, the men’s hockey team still has yet to win an ECAC championship.
To me, last year was “The Year.” Todd’s original recruited freshmen had all grown up and were ready to lead the team as seniors. They had an identical final few weeks of the season as they had had the year before with a convincing win over Norwich in the midst of a seven game winning streak. But Babson got the best of them in the quarterfinal round last year, just as Salem State had done in 2008.
But why? Why no championship? Why no championship game at least? The team certainly works hard for it. I see players shooting pucks in the fields, lifting every possible weight in the gym and dressing snappy every day around campus for their newest fund raiser or community service project.
Perhaps I was wrong about last year. Perhaps this is “The Year.” The team may have lost 178 career points from Brandon Heck and Ryan Bartlett, as well as the defensive prowess of Jared Lavender, but I expect Steve Culbertson, Kirk Bolduc, and Nick Westcott to fill those roles respectively and to carry the team to deep into the playoffs.
I am going to go ahead and say it. Men’s hockey will tear that monkey of their back and at least make it to the ECAC title game for the shear fact that they are due. They have had the talent, the hard work, the drive, and so it just comes down being due, I suppose.