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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Hockey Team Heads to Twelfth Consecutive National Championship Tournament

On Saturday, as the Stony Brook men’s basketball team looks to become the first basketball team in school history to go to the national championship tournament, another Seawolves team will be gearing up towards completing a dream of their own.

This team is no stranger to victory. In fact, it has quietly been the most sucessful team on campus over the last decade. This year, it won its regular season division championship and the postseason tournament too, posting a 9-0 league record.  And when the team takes on Illinois on Saturday, it will be the team’s 12th consecutive trip to the national championship tournament.

So as Stony Brook’s ice hockey team prepares to make yet another run at putting Stony Brook on the collegiate athletics map, there is the bittersweet taste that comes with being so successful and still receiving no publicity or attention from university administration.

“We don’t get enough recognition,” Seawolves senior defender and captain Colin Brumstead said.  “It’s frustrating inviting university bigwigs out to see us play on multiple occasions and getting no response.  I guess they’re busy.”

But Brumstead isn’t whining.  The Seawolves have plenty of attendees at their games.  Played at The Rinx in Hauppauge, a ten-minute drive from Stony Brook campus, home games drew a program-record 6,190 people over 12 games this year.  The previous record, set last year, was 4,514 people over a 14-game season.

The increase in gate numbers has had a lot to do with the team’s work in the community, which includes visiting local schools to raise drug and alcohol awareness, toy drives at Christmastime and fundraising events at games.  Kids routinely stay after the game to get autographs from the players in the locker room.

“It’s a nice feeling, when kids come and get autographs,” Brumstead said.  “It’s nice having kids look up to you.”

The team’s public relations director, Kris LaGrange, has been instrumental in getting the team involved in the community and, consequently, the community involved in the team.

“Understand that a club program has no money for this, so we have depended on the kindness of generous local businesses and labor unions to provide us with the resources necessary to grow the fan base,” LaGrange said. “We went from 50 fans per game in 2007-2008, to over 400 per game on average in 2009-2010.”

Among those trekking out to The Rinx for a home game this season were dedicated members of the Stony Brook marching band.  By far the loudest and most passionate supporters of Seawolves athletics on campus, the band took their show to Hauppauge, setting up an impromptu, volunteer pep band that fills the rink with its sound, spurring on the team and firing up the crowd.

“The band is the best thing that has happened to the crowd and the hockey team this whole year,” Brumstead said.  “We play against schools that have really big crowds.  But I have yet to play in front of a pep band like ours.”

Yet despite perennial success and the overwhelming support of the community, university administration has not responded to repeated attempts to get them on board, frustrating the team and the more than 6,000 fans that have signed a petition to convince the school to build an ice rink on campus, which is one of the main goals of the program.

“We really just want university officials to attend a game at this point,” LaGrange said.  “Everything else will fall into place.” University officials could not be reached for comment.

LaGrange cautions that an arena would be a huge undertaking and requires having someone who would be up to the task, but said he thinks the arena could pay for itself.

“This would require that we know how to work Albany and build coalitions with the business, labor and hockey communities on Long Island,” LaGrange said. “The new arena would generate revenue for the school, but the right people need to be in place so the job gets done the right way.”

The ultimate goal of the team is to step onto the ice on Stony Brook campus as an NCAA Division I team.  With the team being a contender each year and the support of the community, Brumstead thinks it’s possible.

“One by one, youth programs are lining up behind us,” Brumstead said.  “Politicians are behind us, the students are behind us.  All we need is the university behind us.”

But first, a trip to the national championship and representing not just the school, but the thousands of fans that turned up to a small rink on Long Island, on the national stage.  Brumstead says the feeling never gets old, even on his fourth trip back.

“It’s definitely exciting,” he said.  “I just hope we can bring the trophy back to Stony Brook.”

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