Finally, the moment that Keene State College’s men’s club hockey program has been waiting for came last Saturday with the debut of the highly anticipated Keene Ice Arena.
The KSC men played their first game in the new building against defending conference champion New York University Bobcats.
It was utter pandemonium as the puck dropped in front of an arena filled with eager and enthusiastic KSC hockey fans.
NYU struck first, scoring the first goal of the contest with 8:09 on the clock in the first period. NYU would have what they believed was their second goal with 39 seconds on the clock in the first period, but would be overturned by the officials as the puck was kicked in by one of the NYU players. The Bobcats would then make up for the ruling in the second period with a goal at the 9:55 mark.
But the 2-0 deficit wouldn’t affect the Owls’ competitive energy, as it was a physical affair from end-to-end. The Owls would respond almost immediately, as junior forward Matt Girard scored KSC’s first ever goal at Keene Ice just 31 seconds later.
In the third period, NYU would extend their lead and seal the victory with the only goal of the third period with 13:22 left in the game. The Owls struggled with turnovers and odd man rush situations, and will look to rectify those issues moving forward.
Rodrigue said, “Now that the guys have tasted this [the loss] they’re not going to like this taste. So I think this week we’ll work a lot harder in practice and we’re going to try to be ready for Friday night.”
This Friday, December 11, the Owls look to redeem themselves and pick up their first win at Keene Ice against Montclair State.
Aside from the result of the game, which the Owls lost by a score of the feeling among the team was excitement having played an official home game in the new rink.
“It’s certainly a huge step,” Rodrigue said, “It makes me think of a lot of the work that a lot of players in the past have put in to get the program to this point. We’re certainly happy to be here.”
The pleasant feelings toward the new rink remained the same for the players as well, as senior Sam MacNicoll and captain Andrew Pierce both said the official installment of the new rink was a historic step for the entire Keene State hockey program.
After the game, Pierce said, “To be out there was surreal, because for the past three years we’ve been playing at the Cheshire Fairgrounds. To have an experience like this, it’s unbelievable.”
When asked about how it felt to actually play on the long-awaited rink, MacNicoll said, “It felt great. It was good knowing we had a lot of support behind us and a lot of people came to the game.”
Macnicol also said the game was a big step for the program and creates the possibility of the team becoming a NCAA varsity program.
Going into the game, Pierce and his teammates had a positive attitude and were excited to finally play on the new rink in front of a fired up home crowd.
When asked about the future impact of the new arena, Pierce said, “This means absolutely everything to the program moving forward. It means better recruits coming in, better camaraderie on campus. It puts the hockey team on the map.”
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