For most Upstate New Yorkers, Union Hockey has always been close to home. But for sophomore goaltender, Colin Stevens, it literally IS home. Stevens grew up in Niskayuna, New York; which is practically a “slap-shot from the point” away from Union College in Schenectady. While the Capital District area of upstate New York may lack a NHL team, it certainly has no shortage of college hockey institutions. Among the choices that Stevens had to pick from were Colgate, Clarkson, St. Lawrence University, and Cornell. While these schools were all available options to the young net minder. He chose to stay close to home. Not even crosstown rivals, RPI Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, NY was able to pry Stevens away from Union hockey.
Having gone to Union hockey games while growing up, I always was a fan and thought about how cool it would be to be out there one day.” says the 19 year old sophomore. “So, to be honest, I would say Union was a goal of mine starting long before high school. I did visit a few of the other schools in NY, but I pretty much knew Union would be the best fit throughout the recruiting process. “
He seemed quite convinced that Union College was to be in his future. Why was that?
“There’s a number of things. First of all the strong academics was very appealing to me, in addition to a great coaching staff. It was also clear that the (Union Hockey) program was heading in the right direction when it came time to make my decision.” explained Stevens.
When Stevens realized his boyhood dream of playing Union Hockey, he quickly found himself on a program that was soaring and settled in as its back up net minder. He competed in 11 games in his freshman year; posting a .913 save percentage. I asked him what his primary focus was for his first season? Was he happy with the time he saw and his own performance?
“I tried to focus more on being prepared for the time when I would be in the net than thinking about how much time I would actually get in it, so it’s tough to say exactly how much time I expected. For the most part”, continues Stevens. “I felt good about my play, but I’m never completely satisfied no matter what and I know what I have to work on to build on my performance this year. “
Without a doubt his contributions were felt and benefited the entire team as the Union hockey players put together a wonderful playoff run that landed them in the NCAA Frozen Four tournament in Tampa. How did Colin feel about this instant success?
“Obviously it was a great experience for me, especially being a freshman. Having the opportunity to see what it takes to make a run in the postseason is definitely something I learned a lot from, from both the mental and physical aspects of it.“
You can not argue that the trip to Florida made this young goalie’s season that much better, but it is the much shorter trip “around the corner” from campus to Stevens’ Niskayuna home that makes his day.
“Having a lot of support from family and friends in the stands is something that I value.” says Colin. “On top of that, it’s nice having the ability to go home at pretty much any time whether its for a home cooked meal or just to relax for a little while.”
The future is bright for the area native. The Union hockey program is coming off an ECAC Championship title season and great national exposure. Stevens finds himself playing valuable minutes while backing up starting Junior, Troy Grosenick. The Hobey Baker finalist, Grosenick, earned the ECAC’s Ken Dryden Award as the league’s Top Goaltender. Both Stevens and Grosenick not only share the pipes for Union hockey, but they share the same major, Managerial Economics. I asked Stevens to comment on his working relationship with the Dutchmens’ #1 goaltender.
“Playing behind Troy this year was a good learning experience for me. I was able to pick some things up from Troy both on and off the ice. We pushed each other every day in practice and I believe that healthy competition made both of us better.“
So where does this leave Union Hockey for the coming season? Well, the skies the limit for the Dutchmen according to Stevens.
“I have the utmost confidence in our returners, and I believe our incoming class, despite having big shoes to fill, will do so nicely and I look forward to getting back to work. “
And we are looking forward to it as well! Rich Currao is a Content Writer for Rantsports.com. A life-time rink rat, Big Bipper covers the NHL, AHL, and NCAA Hockey. He also covers the NFL and High School Football. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on Facebook.