First things first, congratulations on making the state championship. I, along with the seniors, know how long the journey was to today. For the seniors that started with me when they were freshmen, there were a lot of tough nights. There were nights when we would head to the rink when we knew we just couldn’t compete with the teams we were playing. We had practices where we could barely make a pass. A lot of silent bus rides home from away games where playing hockey seemed more like a chore than a sport. We had a young team and we had no experience, we never thought we’d ever have success.
Last year, we could see the change that was happening with the team. We had a great influx of young kids ready and eager to contribute. Even though we did not have the success we wish we had, last year was the most fun I had playing hockey. I was honored to be your captain and become friends with kids that I would never have met if it weren’t for this team. We didn’t win many games, but we could all see the change happening and how much we were improving. I remember after getting blown out in the preseason, I challenged the juniors to take charge and help lead the team. This year you guys delivered and led one of the most successful teams in the state, that’s something to be proud of.
It sucks that after playing with friends for the last 10 years of my life that I had to finish a year early. Ever since Squirts, I have had the opportunity of playing with kids I will be able to call lifelong friends. All of the late nights hanging out at tournaments, running around Taft, all the fun bus rides after a win, and the good times before practice in the locker rooms are memories I’ll never forget. I wish I had the opportunity to finish the journey we started together, but that’s not how life works sometimes.
The best part about today is that no one ever saw this coming. There was never a mention of Dub-P in any season preview, no mention of a states or league run. Even after getting shut out on opening night you guys never gave up. I was never in the locker room, but I knew that you guys never bought it and were willing to prove everyone wrong, and you did. This year you guys won 18 games, which took us all 60 games the last three years to do. You guys went from the team everyone couldn’t wait to play to the team no one wanted to play.
Today is the biggest game that you guys will ever play and for a few of you the last one. I cannot tell you what it is like to play in a championship game, but I know what it is like to play my last game. For the seniors: enjoy everything you do a little more today. Don’t forget to take it all in because today you will take your last shift. Make sure when you do that you leave the ice with nothing else to give because the worst feeling will be to leave the ice with any doubt you could have given more.
Even though I could not make it back for Yale, I will be watching the game and rooting for you guys. Put everything on the line because you may never get this chance again. Regardless of the result, this season was a success and one to be proud of. You guys shocked the whole state getting here, in addition to having the best turnaround at D2. You guys got everyone talking about Dub-P again, and showing everyone why they don’t want to play us.
I wish you guys the best of luck, and remind you that you have made everyone proud who is associated with the program. Bring home a banner.