Binghamton University Club Hockey team places second in nation
Students bring home silver medals from Collegiate Hockey Federation Cup
Binghamton University’s club hockey team ended its season at the Collegiate Hockey Federation (CHF) Cup donning silver medals and celebratory smiles. The Bearcats placed second at the national championship games, which ran from March 18 to 23 in Philadelphia. The team had high hopes for the season and was confident in its ability to bring home medals.
“We knew that we had a high-character team with great depth and we felt like we were playing our best hockey at the right time,” said Nick Galanti, assistant captain and MBA student.
Binghamton University was ranked seventh in the country entering the tournament this year. Team members persevered through the tournament to qualify for the medal round at the CHF Cup with their win against St. Bonaventure on March 21. The Bearcats did not have the opportunity to compete with St. Bonaventure during the regular season, and entered the game determined to prove themselves.
“[St. Bonaventure] won the Upstate New York Club Hockey League (UNYCHL) and we felt like we let ourselves down by not winning that league,” said Jack O’Bryan, a junior majoring in actuarial science and an assistant captain and vice president of the club. “We jumped out to an early lead and we never really let our foot off the gas. We all could see that we were playing arguably our best game of the season, and that was really exciting to watch. After winning that game six to one, it felt like a bit of vindication for the UNYCHL, as well as a great win rolling into the Final Four.”
After their win against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, the Bearcats went on to defeat the Ramapo College Roadrunners on March 22. The final score at 5-4 was a close call, but the team advanced and fought to earn a chance at a national championship. While Babson College ultimately defeated Binghamton, the hockey team earned silver medals for placing second in the nation.
“There are over 100 teams in this league and only three get medals at the end of the year, so we’re proud of that,” said Galanti.
The second-place finish was a long time coming for the team members, who were ranked as the number-one seed before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the tournament down. But the disappointment of going from favorites to win the championship to being sent home to quarantine did not crush the players’ dreams, and only pushed them to work even harder.
“Our biggest motivation this year was a mix of redemption and, of course, the massive amount of support that we had all season from our friends and family,” said O’Bryan.
O’Bryan expressed his gratitude for the support and encouragement from former teammates throughout the season. The strong friendships between the students and alumni is a bond the teammates are forever grateful for. None of this would have been possible without their love for hockey and Binghamton University’s Club Sports office and staff.
“Having a Club Hockey team for all of us to continue playing the game we love is the biggest thing that Binghamton University has provided us with,” said Tom Relyea, the first-semester captain and co-president. “We have talked about how lucky we are that everyone on our team came to this school at the same time, because not every team is fortunate enough to have the number of players and amount of talent that we have. Craig [Dube] and Kirstin Loh from Club Sports have been so helpful and supportive of us all year, and we can’t thank them enough for that.”
Galanti is a forward and O’Bryan, Relyea and Max Klares all play defense. The four teammates have each been playing hockey for the past 18 years, making the end of this season bittersweet for the seniors and soon-to-be graduates. Returning students are looking forward to the future of the team.
”After this we will enjoy the offseason with each other and get ready for next year,” said Max Klares, a senior majoring in biochemistry, assistant captain and club co-president. “We have some older guys graduating, but also have a lot of returners for the coming years. Nick [Galanti] and Tom [Relyea] will be graduating, but they’re super confident that our leaders and young guys can carry the torch and make another run at the UNYCHL and CHF. We gained a lot of experience as a group through this run, so now we know what it takes to get back to that point in the national tournament.”