Union Hockey: How Far it's Come

I’ve always extolled the Union hockey team for its accomplishments. Now, having won the NCAA Division I National Championship in April, my admiration for the team knows no bounds.
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Union Hockey: How Far it's Come

N. Donald Boink ’50, to the right of Coach Lawrence, with other members of the 1948-49 hockey team.
N. Donald Boink ’50, to the right of Coach Lawrence, with other members of the 1948-49 hockey team.

Originally published in the Union College Magazine, Fall 2014

I’ve always extolled the Union hockey team for its accomplishments. Now, having won the NCAA Division I National Championship in April, my admiration for the team knows no bounds.

To me, this latest achievement ranks with the momentous victory of team USA over team Russia in the 1980 Olympics. Minnesota has been a powerhouse in college hockey for years, winning a number of championships in the past. Union scoring four goals in the first period and scoring three goals in 1 minutes, 56 seconds was in itself history making.

As a former skating Dutchman myself, I could not be more proud.

It was 1948 when I went out for the hockey team. The weather was mild before Christmas break and we practiced in the gym, simply shooting at a goal. Our goalie had no helmet or mask.

During the break the team was scheduled to play in a round robin tournament at Hamilton College. Also participating were Lehigh, St. Lawrence and Middlebury. Hamilton’s rink was indoors so we were assured of good ice. We won one game out of four, beating Lehigh.

In 1949, my second year on the team, we played pretty much the same schools, including one in Plattsburgh, a new state college to accommodate veterans. That was the last year Union had a hockey team until Achilles Rink was constructed in 1975.

The interesting thing is that the Fieldhouse was built in the same location as the hockey rink that the College made in the 1930s. I was only eight years old when the creek was damned and the water diverted to make that regulation hockey pond. The Union administration generously allowed us locals (I grew up in Schenectady) to use the rink in the evening and it was a very popular spot.

Now in my 89th year, I have been able to see Union hockey emerge as the national college champion. It is notable, in this wonderful victory, that there are no scholarships for sports at Union. All those great teams have developed over the years from hard work on and off the ice.

Needless to say I have followed the growth of this greatness with delight and pride. Good job, guys! Well done.

– N. Donald Boink ’50
Doctor of optometry
Liverpool, N.Y.