By Kelly Kultys
The Rose Hill Gym. Jack Coffey Field. Houlihan Park. The Vince Lombardi Center. For years, one of the most successful Fordham Athletics teams has called none of these places home.
Just a short ten-minute drive from the Rose Hill campus, the Fordham club hockey team plays at the Mount Vernon Ice Hutch, a rink that has not seen a losing season since 2003.
“I like it. Fordham hockey [is] kinda Fordham’s best kept secret,” Rick Podpirka, a junior forward, said.
His captain, senior center man Billy Lane, echoed his thoughts.
“The hockey team, I would have to say, is one of the least recognized on campus,” Lane said. “I mean, last year, when we won, I think that might have been the first time people heard about the hockey team.”
Last year was one of the best in the Fordham men’s hockey team’s history. The team finished 20-5-2-1 and captured the title. This year, the team came just short of repeating for back-to-back years.
The 2014-2015 team went 15-6-2-2 and once again made the finals. It battled with Stevens Institute of Technology, tying the score at two after the third period. The teams took the game to overtime, but Stevens prevailed, scoring the game-winning goal 18:26 into extra time.
The club hockey team’s official Twitter, @FordhamHockey, said after the loss, “Hard fought game…disappointing outcome.. Stevens is a class act, if we couldn’t win it, I’m glad it was them.”
Still, this season was successful in many ways both on and off the ice. On an individual level, Lane accomplished the goal of being a good captain.
“Coming in freshmen year, I really looked up to the captains,” said Lane. “They helped, you know; coming to college isn’t the easiest transition for anybody, and, I mean, they helped me transition to college and to the hockey team. Just trying to do that for the younger kids as well.”
One of the guys he was able to help was freshman defenseman Nick Allardi.
“The seniors have been really supportive of the freshmen coming in and it’s been a nice experience so far,” Allardi said.
Despite the fact that not a lot of people know about the team’s success, that has not affected its performance on the ice. Five different players on the team have over 11 goals scored this year, and the team has been successful in recruiting young players like Allardi to join.
“I actually went to the club fair and really wanted to play hockey, and that’s how I ended up here,” Allardi said. “I tried out; it was great. It’s a great group of guys, great program.”
The club fair is actually the same way Lane got involved four years ago.
“When I was a freshman, I first got involved through the club fair,” Lane said. “They had a huge table and I had been playing hockey my entire life, like pretty much the entire team. And then, I tried out for the team and the rest is history.”
One of the keys to that history is the entire team’s desire to continue playing.
“Being competitive in high school, you know, playing everyday, it’s nice to still be out here,” Podpirka said. “You know, thinking I was going to be 21 still playing hockey I wouldn’t believe it.”
“But it’s great, you know, we still get to rep the Fordham colors,” Lane added.
Although the guys did not accomplish their main goal of winning the title, young players like Allardi plan to continue the winning tradition into the future.
“It’d be great to win a championship my first year here and continue that throughout my years at Fordham that’d be awesome,” Allardi said.