Senior Night is an emotional night for everyone involved. The coaches lose the men and women they’ve coached for four years and the fans lose the players they’ve cheered and jeered for their entire collegiate careers. However, Senior Night is most important to the players involved.
In some sports (football and basketball), its difficult to fully grasp the emotion of Senior Night due to the high number of players leaving early for the pros. But in college hockey, it’s one of the best traditions. With the commitment required of college athletes at an all-time high, the sacrifice for hockey players might be the most.
Growing up as a hockey player, I know what these players have been through; the 6 a.m. practices, the pee wee hockey tournaments thousands of miles away, and the constant drive to succeed not just for yourself, but your team as well. Many schools have their own very unique traditions when it comes to hockey. Whether it’s New Hampshire throwing a fish onto the ice or the University of Maine “Naked 5”, there are some great ones out there. However, the greatest of all comes on Senior Night and most schools do it.
All the seniors of the team come out to the ice and get recognized for their years of service to the school, fans, and most importantly teammates. The seniors first come out to the center of the ice after being recognized as individuals. Sometimes they address the fans or give a hug to mom and dad on the way out. Then they gather around the face-off dot and lay on their stomachs and kiss the ice. They kiss the ice they have skated on for four years. They kiss the ice they have put their bodies on the line for during their career. They kiss the ice they have called home for four years, and they do it with the teammates who were there with them from the start.
Seeing all of these pictures from across the nation is uplifting. Not only does it show the relationship between the players and the school, but the bond they made with each other as well. Most of these players will never make it to the NHL. If some are lucky, they will make the NCAA Tournament in a couple weeks, but for many, Senior Night is a last chance to say goodbye to the sport they love – a sport that has made them into the very person they are today.
Congrats to all the seniors that played their final games this weekend.