President Stephen C. Ainlay had some unexpected visitors to his office one recent afternoon.
Students Mat Bodie, his brother Kyle and Greg Coburn – captains of the men's hockey team - walked over to Feigenbaum Hall to surprise Ainlay with an ECAC Hockey tournament championship ring.
The ring was a reward for the magical ride the team enjoyed last season when it clinched its first ECACH title with a 3-1 win over Harvard in the final. The team went on to win the NCAA tournament East Regional title and advanced to its first Frozen Four.
Coach Rick Bennett worked with Jostens, which has designed and produced custom championship jewelry for a number of professional sports teams, including this year's NBA champions Miami Heat. The Minneapolis company created rings for players, coaches and others who were integral to the team's success.
The team received its rings last month. The players and coaches felt Ainlay deserved one of the 46 rings.
"He's a class person," said Bennett. "It was very easy for the captains to go over and give the president a ring for all of the tremendous support he has provided us. We wanted to do this out of respect."
The Union logo is prominently featured on the ring's top, while the bezel is engraved with "ECAC Champions."
One shoulder of the ring includes the person's name and images of the Cleary Cup for the ECACH regular season title and the Whitelaw Cup for the tournament title.
The opposite shoulder is inscribed with the Frozen Four logo and the team's motto last season, "Stick to the process."
As the team marched through its historic season, Ainlay was a frequent presence at Messa Rink. He watched the Dutchmen win their first ECACH title in Atlantic City and traveled to Bridgeport, Conn. to see them capture their first NCAA Division I Regional Championship. He then made the trek to Tampa and the Frozen Four.
Ainlay was surprised when the three student-athletes showed up to give him a ring.
"I'm truly moved by their gesture," he said. "This means so much to me."