Away from home, Ice Knights land in Geneseo

Going to an Ice Knights’ game is a tradition. The home-ice advantage created by students at the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena is particularly notorious around the SUNYAC conference. There wouldn’t be integrity and tradition in Geneseo hockey if it weren’t for its fans. Oftentimes, however, fans know very little about the players themselves. Just like everyone else, they are members of the Geneseo community. Unlike the rest of their peers, however, they get to go out and to lead the way to one of the most booming atmospheres on campus.

Stemming from all corners of this side of the northern hemisphere, the individual journeys these guys have taken to get to Geneseo are extremely unique. Every player has a story.

Raised in Winter Springs, Florida, junior forward David Ripple started playing hockey when he was young. With the lack of youth ice hockey in Florida, Ripple started playing a little differently than most.

“I played roller hockey until I was 11,” he said. After roller hockey, Ripple took to the ice knowing that it was his only way to seriously play competitive hockey. He noted that it took him about two or three weeks to get accustomed to the ice.

After spending 2007-2010 playing junior hockey in Jacksonville, Florida, Ripple joined a junior hockey team in Wisconsin. “It was the first time I lived in [snow],” he said. “It was like negative temperatures every day.”

After learning how to adjust to the cold in Wisconsin while playing for the Coulee Region Chill, Ripple took his talents to Geneseo. Along with playing hockey, Ripple helped to start a Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter here on campus. He leads Bible studies—talking about how the Bible can be referenced in correlation with sports. After Geneseo, Ripple will look to possibly join the United Hockey League and watch his beloved Boston Bruins.

Being born and raised in North Vancouver, British Columbia, junior defenseman Matt Hutchinson started playing hockey at a young age in his driveway. Upon his arrival to Geneseo, Hutchinson noticed many differences. “There are no mountains here,” Hutchinson said. Despite being from Canada, he says the environment at Geneseo hockey games is like nothing he’s seen before.

“The building was filled during warm-ups,” Hutchinson said about the Nov. 22, 2013 game against SUNY Oswego. “It was unlike anything else.” Hutchinson and the rest of the Ice Knights will never forget that night. “I still haven’t watched the game film,” he said.

In his spare time, Hutchinson is a volunteer in the Geneseo Fire Department. “Being from Canada, I got jived a little bit [at first],” he said. Now, he has found a new love for firefighting and is thinking about pursuing a career in professional firefighting after his time here at Geneseo. Working in the International Student & Scholar Services Office as well, there is always something going on for Hutchinson. “I appreciate free time,” he said. “Free time is extremely valuable.”

The Ice Knights are more than a tradition here at Geneseo. They are a group of guys that want to come out and to win a championship for the fans. Every one of them wants to leave the same legacy here: they aim to be good guys, to be role models for the local youth and to have fun. “We’re students too,” Hutchinson said.

Head coach Chris Schultz takes trips around the United States and Canada for recruitment every year. “Academically, [Geneseo] sells itself,” he said. Schultz gave credit to building relationships with recruits to his assistant coach Kris Heeres, who won two consecutive SUNYAC Championships as an Ice Knight in his playing days. Schultz calls Heeres a “warrior” when it comes to recruitment.

The Ice Knights are undefeated thus far in away games. Their next game will be at SUNY Cortland when they take on the winless Red Dragons on Friday Nov. 21.