It is a numb and hollow feeling, one you do not totally accept, but never really want to forget.
After 20 years on the ice, 20 hours a week in a rink and weekends on buses shuttling from city to city, the game that evolved from a young boy’s hobby to a young man’s identity is now a compilation of laughs, memories and life-long friends.
For seven Ice Knights – seniors Colin De Jersey, Blake O’Connor, Ryan Bulach, Kaz Iwamoto, Corbin Rosmarin, Brandon Angotti and Adrian Rubeniuk – that inevitable night played out in SUNY Plattsburgh after the Cardinals ended the Ice Knights’ season, 5-1.
“It’s awful, I don’t know what to do with myself,” O’Connor said.
Angotti added, “Life is much [slower]. I miss [head coach Chris Schultz] around the rink. I’ve tried to fill the spare hours at the gym. Every day is pump day.”
The levity is to be expected amongst a crew that has become like brothers over the course of four seasons that went by quickly.
“All the seniors always say it and it’s true, it goes so fast,” De Jersey said. “We’re sad we’re not playing anymore, but we’ll still be involved in hockey. It just won’t be as competitive.”
That won’t be the case for Iwamoto, who is now under contract to play professionally when he returns home to Japan. The seven-team Asia League Ice Hockey showcases teams from Japan, China and South Korea.
Notorious grinder Rosmarin may need the break from the rink the most.
“I’ve blocked so many shots over the last four years and sacrificed this body for the team, it’ll be nice to repair a little bit,” he said.
As the sting of any playoff loss subsides, life goes on. And for the college hockey player, that means classes continue and team bonds remain strong.
“I think we all agree that we’ve gotten all we can out of hockey,” Rubeniuk said. “It’s going to be nice to get away from the rink for a while, hang with the boys and not worry about the [SUNY] Oswego power play.”
Rubeniuk finishes his career near the top in several major categories in Geneseo goalie history.
The elder Ice Knights said they look back and laugh at the locker room stories that unite them all, like the night the team lost the 30-plus sticks they forgot to pack onto the bus in Plattsburgh or when a broken down bus left them stranded in SUNY Potsdam eating pizza in an empty rink until 2 a.m.
They said they relish their biggest wins, like a streak-busting home victory over Oswego their freshman season when the Knights were barred from playoffs or Bulach’s goal in the final seconds of the 2011 SUNYAC semifinals to force overtime. For Angotti, the Ira S. Wilson Arena was never louder.
Four years is a short time. Winning hockey games is important, but growing, becoming leaders and leaving their marks on Geneseo is just as significant. That’s what Geneseo will be losing.
Perhaps Rubeniuk summed it up best, stating, “I came to this school loving hockey. I’ll leave here loving love.”