Colby Club Hockey completes controversial season

This past Thursday in the Alfond rink, Colby’s beloved (and unaffiliated) club hockey team faced off in a historic, if somewhat unique, Colby vs. Colby club hockey championship match.

The unusual arrangement for the match came as a result of the team “Hounds”  exceptional success this season on the ice. Having won the Sukee Arena Club College Hockey championship last spring, the Hounds saw a massive increase in recruitment for their 2015-2016 campaign and were capable of fielding two full teams in the competition this year. The teams, dubbed “Colby 1” and “Colby 11” by competition organizers, dominated the league, earning the first and second playoff seeds at the end of regular competition.

Unfortunately, just before the playoffs began, a series of controversies ensued that eventually led to both Colby teams voluntarily withdrawing from the competition in protest of league management. At the time playoffs began, it appeared that the first-seeded Hounds side would face the fourth-seeded University of Maine Farmington, while the second-seeded Hounds team would face the third seed, Husson College. Unless there was an upset, this would have resulted in a Hounds vs. Hounds final. However, just before the playoffs began, the league permitted Husson to play an extra game against low-ranked Maine Maritime Academy, giving them a point advantage over both Colby teams.  As a result, Husson would play UMF in one semifinal game, while the two hounds teams would face off in the other.

Naturally, this decision did not sit well with the Colby team, as Husson was arbitrarily granted the advantage of an extra game. Further controversies arose when the league changed their policy with regard to player eligibility, disadvantaging the hounds yet again. Originally, the league permitted Colby students to play for either Hounds team if players were needed, which accommodated the unpredictability of college schedules. Just before the playoffs, however, the league informed the Hounds that players were only eligible to play on one of the two teams, which created two under-strength sides with only eight and  11 players each.

As a result of the league’s seemingly arbitrary changes in policy and game scheduling, the Hounds were forced to seek a better option, and formally left the Sukee Arena Central Maine College Championship in protest. Still looking to play out their championship game, however, the Hounds struck a deal with Colby. The resulting game marked the first time club hockey would return to Alfond since 2006.

Officially playing under the moniker “Colby Club Hockey” for the event, the hounds organized into two teams to play in their manufactured championship, with the “Joey Racks” facing off against “Team Hartnett.” The match itself was characterized by the exciting and unpredictable style of hockey that has defined the Hounds this season, with the Joey Racks going up 2-0 in the first quarter. Team Hartnett responded strongly, however, scoring three goals in quick succession. Despite strong play from the Joey Racks, who added one final goal to their tally, Team Hartnett added another trio to give a final score of 6-3. Both sides saw strong individual performances, as Aaron Liu ’16 netted twice for Joey Racks while forward Sean Fitzpatrick ’16 put two away for Team Hartnett.

Despite the controversies, the players themselves had nothing but positive takeaways from the season. Joey Racks player Nate Jester ‘19 said, “the season as a whole had tons of memorable games, lot of heroes, a bunch of wins, and often an empty bench but was still outrageous fun,” adding that he particularly enjoyed the opportunity to play in the Alfond Rink. Racks’ Goalkeeper Lucas DeGraw ’19 also had a positive take on the situation, stating “[Team Hartnett] scored more than they should have, but it’s not going to happen again. Even though the final didn’t end how I wanted, I got to play for both teams all season and had a great time.” With this positive attitude, the Hounds look set to continue their run next year, having earned two championships in the past two years. 

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