Every year, watching the guys take the ice and skate their last game gets harder and harder. I think I was just as emotional as some of our players were tonight. And to see it all end this way makes it even tougher to swallow.
But looking at the grand scheme of things, what an amazing group of seniors we have this year. These guys have been through a lot as the Nanooks have progressed and grown as a program, and each of them have played a significant role in that.
Each senior class is always something special in their unique ways. Thompson said it best in the end that this team was the closest bunch of guys that he's ever been a part of. I know each of these guys are sad to see their careers end tonight, but I'm both saddened with them, but excited for them.
I'm excited in the sense that I know these guys got a good education during their time here, and after they hang their skates up for the last time, they will have a foundation built to lead them on to success through the rest of their adult lives.
One last piece here as sort of a public thank you letter...
To the Nanooks Senior Class,
It has been an amazing experience watching all of you grow from the freshmen you were when you first got here, to the phenomenal group of men that you are now. None of you played like freshmen when you got here, all of you came out of the gates swinging and have helped lead this program to new heights.
For your dedication to our program, I say thank you. For coming to the rink every day with the right attitude and leading this group of 25 hockey players to come together as a team and collectively represent UAF the Fairbanks community the right way.
Every year, either myself or the athletic department will typically receive a letter from someone the team has met along the road, thanking the school for a positive interaction with the guys at some point along the road. And it's these types of interactions that show your true character, and your willingness to help other people.
And Kaare, you're the epitome of that. I've never seen anyone with an ambition or a desire to help people the way that you do. This With All Your Heart foundation that you started has made a tremendous difference in people's lives in this community, and will continue to impact lives long after you leave this place. Here in a few weeks, when you make the trip down to Pittsburgh for the presentation of the Hockey Humanitarian award, whatever the outcome is know that the real trophy are in the lives that you've impacted with your campaign.
For Adam, I wanted nothing more for you than to see you raise your hands victoriously tonight. While a championship on the ice just wasn't in the cards, what you've done off the ice should be just as special to you. To walk out of here with a Master's degree is nothing short of amazing in the amount of time you've been here. The leadership that you've brought to the team this season, and the way the guys have rallied around you has been great to watch, because its visible to anyone who pays attention. A great quality that should translate very well into the corporate world in leading a company.
Now Chad I know your senior season didn't quite go the way that you had planned or hoped with the injury. And whether you choose to pursue a medical red shirt or not, standing by and supporting the team and still being there means a lot. My own hockey/sports career ended in high school with a bit of a freak accident to my knee in the 5th game of my final season before becoming eligible for juniors. While the scale and impact varies between us quite a bit, I can still relate and understand the desire and hardships of not being able to play and help a team you spent three and a half years getting to this point to sit on the other side of the glass. And on that note, thanks for sticking by these guys and keeping the team first. Also, your deke in Anchorage as you undressed Jared Tuton and buried the wrister will forever live on as one of the sickest goals in Governor's cup history.
For Nik and Jarret, throughout these last four years both of you guys have been cycled everywhere around the line charts. That's clearly because the coaches know they can count on you guys to work hard and get the job done. But I've noticed the chemistry between you guys throughout the last few seasons has been brewing between the two of you, and to watch you both skate flanking Tyler Morley this season and seeing you guys start to take flight and . The three if you together made one if the most exciting lines in college hockey, which certainly got a lot more recognition after the performances at Michigan and Notre Dame.
Steve, it could have been very easy for you to get frustrated with the situation you're in and bolt for the nearest exit, but you didn't. You stuck by the team and kept everyone together with your bright personality and hilarious (sometimes even twisted) sense of humor. You were the glue that held a lot of this team together, and really helped build confidence in the freshman and helped get them going this season. And thanks for making us all laugh with your "On The Road" series. I've often griped that there isn't enough of that "Inside Look" at college hockey teams like you see in the NHL and elsewhere. That was a very cool look at the team that most fans have never seen before.
Andy, what a hell of a ride it's been. You've definitely grown into more of a complete player over the last 4 years here, and I can't wait to see where your talents take you as you enter your professional career. I hope this won't last long, but for now your name is the only one on the stat sheet of goal scorers in the NCAA tournament in a Nanooks' sweater. It wasn't the flashiest goal I've ever seen from you, but it embodied you as a player--hard work and a willingness to get to the front of the net and score. I hope that last stat doesn't last long as the foundation of this team that you and your 6 classmates have helped set will keep these guys going forward to get back to that level very soon.
|Me and 6 of the seniors at the final press conference of the season. Kudos to Chad Gehon for evading the camera.|
So in summary, thanks to all of you guys for 4 solid years of Nanook Hockey. You have all made an impact on this team and the community, and your names will live forever in our history. I hope that we have had as much of an impact on you as you have on us, and that the memories that you've created here will last a lifetime. I look forward to hearing about where life takes you from here. I'll take a look once in a while, but if you want to send me a note about what's going on and where you're at, don't hesitate to shoot me an email.