When not working in the Office of Public Affairs or teaching for Oswego's communication studies department, Tim Nekritz M '05 serves as a faculty mentor for the up-and-coming Laker women's ice hockey team. In January, he had an opportunity to accompany the team to the inaugural Women's Codfish Bowl tournament in Boston. He decided to keep a journal to let readers know what life on the road is like for the hundreds of Oswego student-athletes.
Friday, Jan. 4
12:15 p.m. The first thing that strikes me as I make it to the bus is how much equipment is required for the trip. Between each player's hockey bag, luggage and team equipment, we seem to have more than the bus is capable of holding. ("Maybe I should have been a volleyball coach," Diane Dillon, the head coach, quips at one point.)
12:24 p.m. We're off! The team selecting movies in transit is mostly democratic, although Dillon and assistant coach Bethany Torrice retain veto power for content. Along the way, we'll watch "The Simpsons Movie" and something called "Step Up" (very formulaic, predictable, rich-girl-meets-poor-boy teen drama).
3:35 p.m. We attempt to stop at a rest area near Lee, Mass. We're told there is no water and we should keep going. Maybe they thought we were Yankee fans and it's all a ruse.
3:56 p.m. We make it to the aptly named Blandford Plaza rest area. Players file out to use restrooms and make small purchases. "Ladies, no junk food!" Dillon says. In support, I resist the allure of Munchos and Funyuns and just purchase coffee.
5:55 p.m. First stop is the Harvard campus. We're here to see the Crimson women's hockey team hosting Cornell (Dillon's alma mater and where she was a longtime assistant coach). While there are some fine facilities on the campus, it's sort of neat to note how much better our Campus Center arena is than this old rink. The pictures on the walls of old teams, including a men's team picture from the 1899 season, are very cool.
6:44 p.m. Harvard's impressive pep band strikes up. Their opening tune, Kelly Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone" is an odd selection — does that really fire a crowd up? — but overall they are quite peppy and good.
7 p.m. Faceoff. Both teams are good. We quickly see the refs aren't calling many penalties.
8:24 p.m. During the break between the second and third periods — with Harvard holding a 3-0 lead over Cornell — the crowd is encouraged to sing along with the pep band's rendition of the alma mater. I had no idea Harvard's alma mater sounded so much like "Tennessee Waltz."
9:03 p.m. It's a final. Harvard 4, Cornell 1 ... the Crimson are undefeated and ranked third in the nation. We see why. Back on the bus!
9:30ish p.m. We arrive at the Home Suites Inn in Waltham. As expected, my room is too warm. (Note: I'm paying my way, not trying to add to the program's trip expenses.)
10ish p.m. Team meal of pizza. Pizza is a staple part of the road diet, I learn.
11:01 p.m. I finish writing and all but collapse from exhaustion on the bed. Long day tomorrow!
Saturday, Jan. 5
6 a.m. Finding it hard to sleep in even a good hotel bed, I can already hear movement and activity in the surrounding rooms. Since some of them are housing three young women and team meal starts at 8 a.m., early starts wouldn't be surprising.
8:20 a.m. The team meal was not a required thing for me, so I tried to catch an extra half-hour of sleep. I find the team tables full and meals well under way, so I fill up on the (excellent!) breakfast buffet and sit on the opposite side of the buffet island with random travelers. A local newscast is on, and every commercial break is filled with candidate ads for the upcoming New Hampshire primary.
8:40 a.m. Coach Diane Dillon stands up and addresses the team. Not only does she have their attention, but most diners on the other side of the room are rapt listeners as well.
9:15 a.m. Board bus to depart for UMass-Boston. Assistant Coach Bethany Torrice, I'm learning, has a better sense of direction than the bus driver. One more valuable thing about assistant coaches.
9:55 a.m. "Whose responsibility was the tape box? It's still next to the bus!"
Welcome to the glamorous world of college athletics. We file into the lobby of the Clark Athletic Center at UMass-Boston, and I'm learning a key lesson about student-athletes' life on the road. The Laker co-captain, Aprilyn Gush '10, is asking which player didn't do her bit in unloading the bus. As Coach Dillon notes, things like this are about accountability on and off the ice. The hosts could use the lesson too, as there's no one to greet us or tell us where the locker room is.
10:07 a.m. The UMass-Dartmouth coach arrives to give a quick rundown. Dillon asks about the Lakers' first-round opponent, Trinity. "They're a fast team with a really good goaltender," is the reply, adding of Trinity's strong conference: "Typical NESCAC school."
10:10 a.m. Being the wrong gender to hang in a women's locker room, the faculty mentor takes a hike. Literally. Found a trail around Boston Harbor and even discovered a sandy beach. In January. Go figure.
11:59 a.m. The puck drops. A minute early.
12:04 p.m. Trinity comes out fast, taking a 1-0 lead.
12:06 p.m. This is a fast, skilled Trinity team, now taking a 2-0 lead.
12:11 p.m. Power-play goal by Oswego! Jessica Lister '09, who is faster than a waterbug, takes a feed from Tiffany Duquette '10, and puts it home.
12:34 p.m. Trinity comes out quickly again in the second period, taking a 3-1 lead. I should stress that Oswego and goaltender Hilary Hitchman '10 are playing pretty well, but this Trinity team is nationally ranked. And they deserve it.
1:25 p.m. Early in the third, Trinity takes a 4-1 lead on a pretty power-play goal. Oswego is playing hard but not getting any breaks or bounces.
1:31 p.m. Trinity puts it out of reach with another goal. About their goaltender, Isabel Iwachiw from the Ukraine: very good. The goal by Lister was the only one Iwachiw would allow in the whole tournament (including an impressive win over the hosts on Sunday.)
1:46 p.m. Final buzzer. Final score: Trinity 5, Oswego 1. Huge shot advantage for Trinity of 45-17. A reminder that the Lakers are in their second year as a program and Trinity is an established power.
2:05 p.m. The players meet with a modest but spirited fan base after the game. A few families and even students have made the long trip. Among them are Bob and Cindy Duquette, whose daughter Tiffany assisted on the only goal. They plan on attending every game except the ones in Minnesota. Hockey parents are a dedicated bunch.
3 p.m. Stay and watch a bit of UMass-Boston vs. Cortland. After UMass jumps out to a quick lead, it appears we'll get Cortland — a familiar team — in the consolation game.
3:45 p.m. Board bus to head downtown for our best tourist impersonation.
4:05 p.m. Arrive at Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall. Lovely part of Boston. Three Canadian players — Lister, Erin Robson '10 and Gillian Toneguzzo '11 — are approached by a gent dressed as Ben Franklin . . . who asks them for money. Go figure.
4:10 p.m. We canvas a wide variety of food options at Quincy Market. Dillon encourages players to consider pooling their meal money to make it go further. Hitchman and Mackenzie May '10 use this to score a large amount of sushi. To the players' credit, many of them seek out exotic yet affordable meals, making the most of the opportunities. (I opted for a teriyaki platter from a Japanese place, Megumi. It's phenomenal.)
6:15 p.m. Everyone makes it to the bus and back to the hotel.
[?:?? p.m. Forgot to write down] Later that night, team has another pizza gathering. Unplanned, but the captains talk to Dillon about team hunger and the coach decides to bring in pizza. Even those who ate large meals earlier partake . . . I had forgotten the athletic metabolism.
11:19 p.m. Bed again. Another long day ahead.
Sunday, Jan. 6
8:08 a.m. Joined by new roommate — team manager Jim McGurl '08, who lives in the area — a bit late for breakfast again! This time, at least sit with the team. Jim plans to drive out to the game, so I'll not have to worry about dashing to the bus.
11:20 a.m. Arrive at UMass-Boston just in time to see pre-game routine. First, Lakers stretch in full gear. Then they break into two groups: One has offensive drills vs. rotating goaltenders, others have passing drills. Then everyone takes part in 2-on-1 drills, two on offense, one on defense plus the goalie. Then 3-on-2 drills. Then shooting practice.
11:34 a.m. Buzzer sounds, ending practice. Captains from two teams meet with officials.
11:55 a.m. Lineup for National Anthem (no "O Canada" on the road!), player introductions.
11:59 a.m. Puck drops.
12:08 p.m. Goooal, Oswego! Jessica Lister '09 again gets the Lakers started, assisted by Stephanie Esposito '09 and Aprilyn Gush '10.
12:15 p.m. Cortland knots it at 1-1 with a power-play goal.
12:53 p.m. Past halfway in the second period, a power-play tally by Jenna Kirkwood '10 gives the Lakers a 2-1 lead. Credit Gillian Toneguzzo '11 and Erica Shapey '11 for assists.
1:04 p.m. End of a second period where Oswego had a 15-3 shot advantage, but one goal is still too tight...
1:25 p.m. . . . as Cortland shows with a power-play goal to tie it at 2. These two teams have met three times in two years, and tied every time. Not again?
1:36 p.m. Oswego's Ashley Meyers '09 — a transfer from Cortland — takes a feed from Shapey, slices through Red Dragon defenders and puts a shot home for a 3-2 Oswego advantage. Can the lead hold?
1:49 p.m. Yes. A last-second, long-range desperation shot flutters to a stop in the glove of Oswego goaltender Hilary Hitchman '10. The Lakers claim third-place in the inaugural Women's Codfish Bowl, and the ride home seems better already.
3:35 p.m. After staying to watch a bit of the championship game (where Trinity is on its way to a 1-0 win over UMass-Boston), one more meal in Massachusetts, in the lobby of UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center: Pizza, of course.
3:50 p.m. Board bus for ride home. Movies for the ride will include "The Prestige," supernatural thriller "What Lies Beneath" — at one tense point I learn what a bus of screaming hockey players sounds like — and a 1998 Lifetime movie called "15 and Pregnant" that is so bad it's quite entertaining.
6:37 p.m. Stop in the Patterson Service Area somewhere in New York's Leatherstocking Region. The snack shop serves TCBY, to the delight of our travelers.
9:15 p.m. Home at last! It's one win, one loss for the Lakers . . . but yet another big step in the program's development.
— Tim Nekritz M '05
Upper Photo: Mackenzie May '10 and Hilary Hitchman '10 sample sushi in Boston's Quincy Market.
Photo 2: Quite a few hockey parents and Oswego students made the trek to UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center to watch the Laker women's ice hockey team play in the inaugural Codfish Bowl Tournament.
Photo 3: It's a long way to Boston, but the weather is good.
Photo 4: The Lakers put pressure on the Cortland goal.
Photo 5: Karly Armstrong '10 is presented with a balloon hat as Erin Robson '10 looks on.
Lower Photo: The Lakers pause for a team picture before going to explore Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market in downtown Boston.
Back To February E-Newsletter - Next Article: Digital Delights - Previous Article: Morse Honored
Oswego Alumni Association, Inc.
King Alumni Hall - SUNY Oswego - Oswego, NY 13126
315-312-2258 - 315-312-5570 (fax)
Web site: www.oswego.edu/alumni