Thursday, February 22, 2024

The end of an era

Last night’s playoff loss wasn’t just the end of the season, it was the end of an era, too.

It was Brockport’s final game as a member of the SUNYAC.

It’s bittersweet, for sure.

I’ll miss it. As a fan who’s been watching the team since the 1993-1994 season, the SUNY rivalry is all I’ve ever known.

For me, that’s 30 years of SUNYAC teams that we all knew inside and out, intense rivalries that we all understood, and foes who we at once respected yet saw as maddening thorns in our side – whether it was a determined coach like Plattsburgh’s Bob Emery or a slick defenseman like the Cardinals’ Nick Rolls or a big-time goal scorer like Oswego’s Mike Lukajic or an impenetrable goalie like Mike DeLaVergne of Buffalo State.

So many great players.

So many great games.

So many great memories.

Memories are all that SUNYAC will now be to fans like me.

Memories are all that SUNYAC will be to the men who laced up and will lace up their skates for Brockport.

Think of them and things they experienced, such as: Finally ridding the Golden Eagles of the long-held Plattsburgh curse and then having a bunch of ultra-competitive games with the Cardinals, including one of the longest games in NCAA history....making the playoffs in 2008-2009, hosting that statement game against Potsdam, and then routinely making the playoffs after that…the long road trips to the North Country during which the coaches and the guys could bond.

But, for all that we will miss about SUNYAC, the future is exciting.

There’s a new conference for players and fans next season -- the United College Hockey Conference.

New rivalries will be made as Brockport and Geneseo will compete for conference glory with Chatham, Manhattanville, Nazareth, Neumann, Utica, and Wilkes.

It will be interesting to see new grudges develop, to witness new talents twice a year and in the playoffs, and to wonder what new moments will come.

I’m sad about losing a beloved tradition, but happy about gaining a different future.

Thank you, SUNYAC, for what was for this fan three decades of really awesome hockey.