by: Jacob Hevenor ‘17
Just two years ago, the Gordon Ice Hockey club was on the brink of losing all of its GCSA funding. This spring, the team finalized its move to the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and became an official varsity club under the umbrella of the Athletics Department. The team will play through an 18-game debut season against other collegiate club hockey teams from around New England.
Arriving at this point was no small feat, and for many of the players, making it into the ACHA was just a dream. But after bringing in a strong group of first-year players to complement an already talented roster, they began to see the possibility of a league change. Joe Iriana ’16, then-captain and now the Assistant Coach and Team Manager, spearheaded the effort.
Iriana and his teammates put together a comprehensive 10-year business plan that laid out the future of Gordon Ice Hockey. The key was to convince the Gordon administration, including Athletic Director Jon Tymann and Vice President for Student Life Jennifer Jukanovich, that the program was sustainable. Kyle Hayes ’17, this year’s team captain, played in the ACHA when he was a student at Wheaton College. Now at Gordon, he will be able to use his knowledge of the league to help provide direction for the team.
While in the NESHL, a regional non-checking adult league, the Scots had a fantastic season. They were able to cap it off by winning the league championship just days before they were scheduled to meet with Gordon administration. Hayes said, “Jennifer Jukanovich was really impressed that we won the whole league. We could show that right away we were ready to take the next step.”
With the Athletic Department’s support, the team was able to secure perhaps its most essential asset – a home rink. The club reached an agreement with Endicott College to use the Raymond J. Bourque arena, located just down the road on Endicott’s campus.
Armed with a rink, school support, and a determined group of players, several team leaders attended the ACHA spring meeting in April along with Tymann. They presented their proposal and were accepted into the league.
“That meeting was integral in the process, because they saw that we are serious about building this program,” said Hayes. As soon as Gordon joined the league, the scheduling process began.
The players have a lot to adjust to as they prepare for this first season. Paul D’Ambra, the new head coach, hopes to “channel his passion for hockey and the Gordon community into growing the Gordon Club Ice Hockey program.” Hayes hopes to “lay the foundation for the program. We want to build on each week, learning more each time. And hopefully there will be a few surprises for us down the road.”
The team’s first game will be Friday, Sept. 30, at the Raymond J. Bourque arena against Suffolk University.