Friday, October 22, 2010


This great article from the Sports Information Department looks at Ray Tremblay's success story as well as what's in the cards for the Golden Eagles' this season...

As The College at Brockport’s ice hockey team prepares to open its 2010-11 season Friday night on the road against Utica College, senior forward Ray Tremblay (Peachland, British Columbia/Beaver Valley Nitehawks) is optimistic the Golden Eagles can win the school’s first State University of New York Athletic Conference title.

But while wins and losses are nice, as the season begins, Tremblay’s mind drifts back to that fateful day, Dec. 25, 2006, when his whole world came to a crossroads.

While visiting his grandparents’ house in the village of Midway, British Columbia, located 140 miles north of Spokane, Wash. along the US/Canadian border, Tremblay and his cousins were out back enjoying a toboggan ride along the frozen Kettle River. Tremblay was wrapping up his final season of junior hockey before embarking on a career he Tremblay hoped would have him playing collegiate and, eventually, professional hockey.

During his first of what promised to be many toboggan runs with his younger family members, Tremblay caught some hang-time and, while in the seated position, landed awkwardly on the snow-covered ground. Tremblay was able to get up and walk away from the incident, but not without pain. And the pain persisted.

Suddenly, everything Tremblay had worked so hard for was on the brink. His once promising hockey career seemed derailed after doctors revealed the forward had suffered compression fractures on two of his vertebrates during the tobogganing accident.

Tremblay was faced with two choices: either opt for surgery, which would limit his mobility and force him to abandon hockey, or give his body the necessary time to heal, which meant spending nearly 23 hours a day in bed during the first three months of rehabilitation.

For Tremblay, a lifelong hockey player, the decision was easy.

“The option of not playing hockey ever again didn’t seem very good for me. I’ve dedicated pretty much my whole life to the game and I knew I’d be able to get through rehab,” said Tremblay, who lists Brockport’s 3-1 SUNYAC quarterfinal home win over Potsdam in 2009 as his career highlight.

“I just wasn’t done playing yet, I knew I wanted to come to college to play hockey and maybe even further beyond that. It was my drive, I wasn’t done playing yet.”

The only time Tremblay was able to walk, he had to wear a cumbersome back brace to ensure his vertebrae didn’t shift out of place. Tremblay’s body could only handle 15-minute spurts of walking; the rest of his days, he was bed-ridden. Following three “very difficult” months, Tremblay and his doctor noticed some improvements, and the brace was removed so Tremblay could test his body while walking around the house.

But just because he was able to walk, didn’t mean Tremblay’s arduous rehab was complete. It took another three months until Tremblay was able to rejoin his teammates on the ice, and even then, Tremblay “felt awkward, and my body felt pretty delicate,” while gliding up and down the ice.

Eventually his body was able to handle the rigors of playing competitive collegiate hockey, and Tremblay scored three goals with seven assists in 27 games during his freshman season at Northland (Wis.) College.

After just one season at Northland, the former junior hockey standout who received looks from seven NCAA schools decided to transfer to Brockport, opting for the Golden Eagles because of the school’s nationally-known physical education program, as well as the chance to help improve Brockport’s hockey team.

Prior to Tremblay’s arrival, the Golden Eagles hadn’t posted consecutive double-digit win seasons since the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons. During Tremblay’s sophomore and junior seasons, Brockport won a combined 28 games, the highest two-year total in the school’s 37-year varsity history.

On the eve of his final season with the Green and Gold, Tremblay now has his priorities in place, and knows that while playing hockey is a fun hobby, he will need a solid education if he’s going to succeed off the ice and in life.

It might not have seemed apparent at the time, but Tremblay received one of the best Christmas gifts back on that Christmas Day: a fresh perspective.

“I don’t want to take things for granted. After (the injury), as I’m lying there in bed, all I could think about was how you can’t take things for granted,” said Tremblay, who hopes to get into coaching hockey once his playing days are over. “So many times I’d be playing (hockey) and I’d get upset about what’s going on in the game. I learned you have to take a step back and get some perspective. Hockey’s a fun game, but it’s just a game.”

Offensively, the Golden Eagles return Tremblay, the team’s returning leading assist man (19), as well as seniors Justin Noble (10G, 9A) and Tom Galiani (9G, 6A) and juniors James Cody (14 goals, 14 assists), Ian Finnerty (7G, 17A) and Gregg Amato (3G, 15A).

Defensively, Brockport must replace Todd Sheridan, the first-team All-SUNYAC goalie whose 3.07 career goals-against average is tops in school history. Junior Oliver Wren, who started three games last year and posted a 3-1 record and a 2.51 GAA, should give the Golden Eagles a steady presence in goal.

“We have so many good recruits that guys will be fighting for their jobs on the ice,” said Tremblay. “We have to set the bar high. The last two years we’ve definitely improved the program, but we want to win more, and I think a SUNYAC championship is a great possibility for our team.”