The 2017-18 season has been nothing short of remarkable for both the men’s and women’s hockey teams. The men’s team started the season off by welcoming their new head coach, Michael O’Brien, to Bates. Under the leadership of O’Brien, and senior captains Samuel Levin and Nick Barker, there has been tremendous growth and team chemistry on and off the ice.
“Going into this season we always knew it was going to be a rebuilding year,” says Levin. “Guys are playing new positions for the first time and are being forced to step up. Everyone has been taking their new roles and executing them the best they can. This year, we have really worked toward keeping a smart system: playing disciplined hockey, and capitalizing when we get opportunities.”
Led by head coach Jon Anctil, and captains Anna Clements ‘18, Julia Kavanagh ‘18, and Anastasia Leff ‘19, the women’s team has yet to lose a game. They have three games left and hope to continue their undefeated record.
“We have a really strong team with lots of experienced players that span all class years,” says Kavanagh. “We also have a lot of new players come as well,” Clements adds. “It is fun to be able to have both and be a team that is open to everyone but is also very serious.”
To celebrate the successes of both programs, the men’s and women’s team challenged each other to an exhibition game. The matchup took place on Wednesday, January 31st at Underhill Arena and marked the first time that the women’s and men’s teams have had an organized faceoff on the ice in program history.
“Although we practice separately, the game is still the same and is enjoyable regardless,” says Ned Moreland ‘19, a junior from the men’s team. “Hopefully this starts a long-lasting tradition between the teams as a way to build a camaraderie between the programs and create a fun sporting event for Bates students to attend in years to come.”
The rules for the men’s game differ from that of the women’s game. Therefore, the teams balanced the varying components of the game to make the competition as fair as possible. Checking was not allowed, and teams played three 20-minute periods on a running clock. The women’s team took an early lead, but the men’s team ended up winning 11-6.
“There has been a lot of talk about whether or not the women’s team could actually play the men’s team,” Clements laughs. “We all skate with the guy’s team during free time but we have never had a real game. We all had a lot of fun! It was awesome to see that both of our coaches are working on having more solidarity between the two teams.”
“The women’s team is spectacular, and I thought that both teams got a lot out of the match. It is one thing to have a solid relationship between the two teams, but when there is some structure to it, there is a little more meaning,” adds Levin. “A lot of the time, during a game, when it is more of an exhibition, there is a tendency to just fool around and deviate from what you have been learning all year. We all wanted to make sure to keep working on playing smart hockey.”
January 31st not only marked the first men’s and women’s match up; the date also saw the revival of the Bates College Alumni Hockey Award. The award was last presented in 2008 and is granted to Bates ice hockey seniors who display outstanding leadership, spirit, skill, dedication, humor, and sportsmanship on and off the ice. The 2017-18 recipients of the award were Julia Kavanagh and Sam Levin.
“I am really glad that the coaches came together and decided to bring the award back,” Kavanagh says. “I am honored to have received it and am also excited for it to become a tradition at Bates.”
“I have been playing on this team for four years, and hockey has always been a huge part of my life, so it is always nice to see that hard work pays off,” adds Levin. “But, at the same time, the mean is lost without all the other guys out there. We all wanted to work harder to make sure the program survives, thrives, and succeeds.”
Both Kavanagh and Levin value the organization and leadership skills that they have acquired through their four years playing ice hockey for Bates. While it is definitely bittersweet to see their time repping the Bates uniform come to a close, they are both eager to see what the future holds for both programs.
“In the end, the success of the program hinges on a willingness and drive to play a great game of hockey and have fun with it. If people are out there and dedicated to play, there is always going to be something for them,” says Levin.
Although the 2017-18 season may be coming to a close, the success of the men’s and women’s ice hockey programs has just begun.