It took 22 years, but with hockey’s 7-4 win over Minnesota on April 12, Craig Ferrero ’92 and his teammates finally have a national championship.
In Ferrero’s first three seasons, Union was a juggernaut of Division III hockey. With records of 16-6, 14-5, and 16-4, many thought they were poised for a national title. “I just remember having three really good years,” Ferrero said. “I truly believe we could and should have won a national championship if we had stayed in Division III.”
But along came the invitation to join the ECAC, a Div. I conference at the highest level of college hockey.
When the players gathered to vote unanimously to move to Div. I, every one knew what the move would mean. “We gave up everything,” said Dalton Menhall ’92. “We were headed to the NCAAs and we sacrificed that dream for the sake of the program.”
“We all checked our personal goals at the door,” Ferrero recalls, “but we all did it for the greater good and none of us would have traded it for the world. To be in a league and have Union’s name mentioned with all the Ivies, how could you turn that down?”
In 1992-92, their first ECAC season, Union went 3-21-1. Ferrero: “We took our lumps.”
But there were moments. On Jan. 17, 1992 at Dartmouth’s Thompson Arena, Ferrero stunned the Big Green with 10 seconds left in overtime. The 2-1 win was a Union first in the ECAC. Later that season, Ferrero had a goal and two assists in a 6-4 win at Cornell. Menhall sealed the victory on an empty netter with 14 seconds left. “The raucous crowd suddenly went silent and headed for the exits,” recalled Gazette hockey writer Ken Schott. “As I waited by the door where Union came off the ice, coach Bruce Delventhal was crying.”
Ferrero and his teammates have stayed in touch with the program, attending as many games as possible. They are members of the Garnet Blades booster club and participate in the team’s annual golf outing. They are in regular contact with Coach Rick Bennett.
When Ferrero got his birthday wish on April 10th, a win over Boston College in the Frozen Four semifinal, he contacted Bennett to suggest a belated gift. He got it two days later.
Ferrero, who ranks fourth all-time in team scoring and was also a four year pitcher and outfielder on Union’s baseball team, was named to Union’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. Recalling that first ECAC season in 1992, he says, “It wasn’t always fun because none of us were used to losing like that, but it makes us all feel closer to the program having played one year in the ECAC.”
Standing on confetti at center ice during the post-game interview, Coach Rick Bennett paid tribute: “It started way before us. For all the guys who wore the jersey, for all the coaches who came before, I just want to say, ‘thank you very much.’”