Senior class has made lasting impression at Union
SCHENECTADY When Mat Bodie, Daniel Carr, Matt Hatch, Cole Ikkala and Kevin Sullivan arrived at Union College in the fall of 2010, there weren’t any banners hanging above the Messa Rink ice surface.
But the fivesome saw hope and a program on the rise.
Today, there are six banners hanging in the rafters. And the seniors want to add before their college careers are done in April.
Bodie, a defenseman, and forwards Carr, Hatch, Ikkala and Sullivan will play their final regular-season home games this weekend when the ECAC Hockey-leading and third-ranked Dutchmen (14-3-1 ECACH, 20-6-4 overall) host Clarkson tonight at 7 and St. Lawrence at 7 p.m. Saturday. The five players will be honored after Saturday’s game.
What have the Dutchmen done since Bodie, Carr, Hatch, Ikkala and Sullivan joined the team? Consider the following:
- The Dutchmen have a 94-37-20 overall record, and are 55-18-11 in ECACH play.
- They have won two Cleary Cup regular-season titles (2011 and 2012), and are closing in on a third.
- They have captured back-to-back ECACH tournament Whitelaw Cup championships (2012 and 2013).
- Union has reached the NCAA tournament three straight years, and a fourth trip seems all but assured.
- The Dutchmen won the 2012 East Regional and made the program’s first Division I Frozen Four appearance.
“Everything we’ve done so far, we’re pretty happy with what we’ve accomplished,” said Hatch, who has 30 goals and 35 assists in 136 career games. “But I think we still have a little more, as a class, still to accomplish, and some goals we still have that we haven’t reached yet.”
The one thing that has eluded them is a national championship. The Dutchmen came close in 2012, but dropped a 3-1 decision to Ferris State in the semifinal.
“We still haven’t accomplished a national championship,” said Ikkala, who has six goals and 12 assists in 102 career games. “That’s still our main goal.”
Carr, the team’s all-time Division I leading scorer with 137 points in 148 games, doesn’t believe the seniors should get all the credit for the program’s success.
“We had a lot of help our first three years,” said Carr, the Dutchmen’s leading scorer this season with 13 goals and 17 assists. “When we got here, Brock Matheson, Adam Presizniuk, Andrew Buote, Luke Cain, Justin Pallos and John Simpson, all those guys did a great job of helping us to adjust to college hockey. That was a big help for our class. They did a great, great job of showing us what it takes day in, day out, to be successful in college. That’s where it all started for us. We just kind of grew from there, and things have worked out pretty well for us.”
The banners hanging from the rafters are for the Cleary Cup and Whitelaw Cup titles, as well as the Dutchmen’s three NCAA tournament appearances and their Frozen Four appearance.
“Making the [NCAA] tournament appearances was pretty cool,” said Sullivan, who has 20 goals and 42 assists in 120 games. “Obviously, two Whitelaw Cup back to back is pretty cool, as well.”
The program was on the rise when the fivesome arrived. Union earned its first ECACH tournament first-round bye in 2008. The following season, the Dutchmen won their first Division I playoff series, and in 2010, they reached the ECACH tournament championship game.
That’s one of the reasons why Bodie, who has 24 goals and 86 assists in 142 career games, wanted to come to Union.
“We were fortunate to come in at a time when the program was on an upswing,” said Bodie, who became the first Union defenseman to record 100 career points. “Being part of the first [NCAA] tournament appearance was nice. We’ve continued that [tradition] pretty strong the last three years. As a class, we got along really well and we worked together really well, so that’s probably what we’ll be remembered for.”
Union coach Rick Bennett is proud of what his five seniors have done for the program.
“Hopefully, those accomplishments aren’t completed just yet,” Bennett said. “I think these guys have a lot in the tank. But it’s going to be up to us and them to build upon that.
“Those guys, from the day they got on campus to the time that they leave, they’ll leave a legacy that is very, very impressive. They’ve earned every accolade they’ve ever gotten.”
“Just as we walk away from this, we helped set a standard for Union hockey,” Ikkala said. “The recruits we have coming in and the classes below us will carry it on.”
Bennett remembered three would-be seniors who left the team for different reasons.
Goalie Troy Grosenick and forward Josh Jooris gave up their senior seasons to sign with San Jose and Calgary, respectively. Defenseman Mike Ingoldsby’s career was cut short after 13 games his freshman season because of numerous concussions.
“Josh Jooris, in his three years here, was a major contributor, and a super guy and a great student-athlete, along with Troy Grosenick, who left a legacy and a half, being the ultimate student-athlete here,” Bennett said. “This class has a tremendous amount of respect from the school in the fact of how they approached being a student-athlete. They really got the fact that being a student first was just so important.
“[Ingoldsby] was off to a great start. I’m not going to say he was going to be an All-American or a Hobey Baker [candidate], but the path that he was on, he would have been right up there with a lot of the best ‘D’ here in the history of Union.”