The atmosphere in the arena crackled with electricity as the fans pounded on the trembling glass and stood screaming on their feet. A casual passerby would never have realized the scene was the third period of a blowout.
Though the Boylston Cup was played on neutral ice, the Emerson College hockey team had the clear home team advantage. Cheers of “Berklee sucks!” rang in the air as over 80 Lions fans made the trip to Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena to show their support. Across the way, the smattering of Berklee College of Music students numbered a little more than 10.
But the raucous crowd was not enough to will Emerson to victory, as Berklee ended the Lions’ season with an 18-3 drubbing.
The Ice Cats came out hot, capitalizing on Emerson’s errors and scoring only two minutes into the game. The Lions played sloppy defense, allowing passes across the goalmouth and failing to take the puck away from opposing skaters. It often took Emerson several passes just to clear the defensive zone early on.
After Berklee took a 2-0 lead four minutes in, however, Emerson rallied around goalie and captain Alfonso Carrion’s determined play. The junior net-minder stoned several breakaways and used his full extension to keep the Lions in the game. At one point, Carrion even threw his stick across the goal line in an attempt to thwart the Ice Cat attack.
“You have to forget about it and move on,” the captain said. “As a goalie, it’s always a mental game. The team picks you up, though we just tried to make sure that we got the pucks out of the middle of the crease.”
The Lions gained momentum and mounted some offense of their own. Clayton Zoe forced a turnover with a hard hit on the forecheck. Scott Crawford took the puck behind the Berklee net and put Emerson on the board with a wraparound. Moments later, a dribbler squirted through the Ice Cat’s goalie’s legs after a defensive miscommunication. Emerson had tied the score at two apiece and brought the crowd to its feet.
“We were a little bit discouraged, but two goals isn’t a big deficit in hockey,” said forward James Bass. “We were able to keep our heads in it and were able to battle back.”
This momentum proved to be short-lived, though, as Berklee answered right back. The Ice Cats took a 3-2 lead into the second period and picked up where they left off, pushing the score to 6-2 against a weary Carrion.
The errors began to pile up, as Emerson was unable to mount sustained attacks. Bass caught a puck at center ice and skated into the Berklee zone, thinking he had a breakaway. When he turned to pass, however, the other Emerson skaters were in the middle of a line change. The Lions went on the power play several times, only to find themselves cornered in their own end as Berklee’s penalty kill bombarded Carrion.
Coach Kyler Schelling said that Emerson tried to do too much on offense, which lead to more mistakes.
“I think we were trying to be too cute, too fancy,” said Schelling. “We weren’t playing simple hockey, and they were able to capitalize.”
Schelling, who stopped playing after suffering a concussion last semester, has taken on head coaching duties this season.
Carrion was replaced by Brian Lynch midway through the second period. Lynch looked stiff, allowing two goals on the first two shots he saw. More mistakes in the form of giveaways and rebounds allowed Berklee to put the game out of reach at the close of the period, with the score at 11-3.
The Ice Cats bench was only six players deep, but Bass said their skill and passing wore the Lions down.
“Because they were able to move the puck better and pass better, we had to chase them more, and that tired us out,” the visual and media arts major said. “They were able to tire us out in our defensive zone by cycling the puck better than we were able to.”
Despite the fatigue, both teams continued to play physically, causing the Emerson crowd to grow more and more rowdy as the game wore on. While there was an occasional shoving match and several penalties, the tension of the game never broke, to the dismay of the fans.
“It’s great to see them come out to support us, even though Emerson’s not typically a ‘sports’ school,” Schelling said. “I wish they wouldn’t swear quite so much,” he added with a laugh.
Schelling made sure to give all the players ice time in their last game of the year. Max Collins took over goaltending duties in the final period, while Carrion skated out, wearing a neon green jersey.
Though the third period went dismally for the Lions, the fans stayed until the very end and made their voices heard. When Emerson’s Bobby Feltault was sent to the penalty box, a group of Lions supporters ran over behind the sin bin to congratulate him. Whenever a big hit was made, the students closest to the rink would cheer and bang on the glass, causing it to shake. When the game ended, the players were applauded for their efforts.
Emerson finished its season with an even record of 3-3, with all three wins coming against Rhode Island School of Design. The players said that despite struggling on the ice at times, they felt the year was an overall success.
“We learned a lot, and we had a better team than last year,” said Bass. “We’re only going to improve more.”
Carrion said that as a club team, the important thing is to enjoy the game.
“We’re here to have fun,” said Carrion. “We all have our film projects or our marketing campaigns. Hockey’s supposed to be something that’s not stressful, so we make sure whenever we play we have fun.”