After nearly four years here at the University of Massachuetts, it has finally arrived: my senior day as a UMass hockey fan. Don’t get me wrong – this is about Nolet, Meyers, Braun, Watson, and Ortiz above all else. But it’s also a day to celebrate and to reflect for those of us who came to the Pioneer Valley as wide-eyed, stupid freshmen and will leave having witnessed the ups and downs of four full seasons of Hockey East play, all the thrilling comebacks, heartbreaking losses, fierce rivalries, and gripping drama entailed.
Should we be sad about how the past two seasons, and in all likelihood (after last night’s undiscussable, yet oddly predictable, fail of a Merrimack visit), this season, have turned out? Maybe. But in four years, we seniors have witnessed an Olympian goaltender and the team’s first NCAA tournament run, one of the most gifted and creative scorers in school history in Jimmy, thrilling wins over all of our Hockey East rivals, and maybe, just maybe, these guys will turn things around tonight and play like they showed they were capable of a month ago and make another valiant run in Hockey East like last year’s near-upset of Northeastern. (We’ll wait and see if they can at least beat Merrimack at home first.) And here’s the kicker, boys and girls — our seats, apart from being the best in the house, didn’t cost us a dime (or, at least, we paid the same for our seats as everyone who went through their time at UMass without seeing a hockey game did).
When I’m old and grey and looking back at my time in college, aside from all the partying — the proverbial sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll (alright, sometimes literal) — my fondest memories will be of those Friday and Saturday nights spend with several thousand of my fellow hockey enthusiasts, under the big comforting green roof of the Bill, living and dying by the actions of a group of our classmates and one little circular rubber object.
A friend of mine texted me yesterday to say that this will be the last time we get to hear “The Funeral” at a hockey game. He’s speaking for himself here — with so many of my friends having another year to go before graduating, I certainly plan on being here whenever I can next year and in years to come. I’ll bleed maroon until the day I die. But this is a special night nonetheless, barring a last-minute turnaround to buy us a couple more home games. This is the last regular-season home game I will see as a UMass student.
Finish on a high note, boys.