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February 22, 2012

Seniors eying additional program records

When the current senior class first stepped onto the ice at the Clearview Arena in the fall of 2008, Saturday night seemed like such a long way off. Ten freshmen, all coming off of successful junior careers, arrived in Moon Township to begin the next phase of their lives. For many, it was the perfect fit, getting an education while continuing to play the game they love.

As the candles increase each year, the time seems to roll that much faster. On Saturday evening, the ending of that next phase will become a reality.

"I tell the guys that when they arrive here that before you know it you'll be seniors and graduating," head coach Derek Schooley said. "They kind of look at me with dumbfounded eyes, saying its four years away."

Those eyes will take to home ice for the final time, at least in the regular season, in a two game set this weekend against Air Force. For many of the elder statesmen of the team, it is finally starting to sink in.

"It's definitely a weird feeling," senior goaltender Brooks Ostergard said. "You've got lots of mixed emotions. You're excited for the weekend and the competition, but it's kind of bittersweet because you know you're going to miss it."

Ostergard is just one of ten graduating seniors that will all have family in town to help send them off in Saturday's regular season finale.

Another member of the ten, Trevor Lewis, who will make his program record 137th appearance on Friday, is proud of the bond that he and his classmates have been able to form over the last four seasons.

"How close of a group we are as seniors and just the bonds we've made with each other is very rewarding," the senior captain said. "Your four years here goes by really quick and you just have to trust the people that are in charge and believe in each other. That's something I'll remember for the rest of my life."

Schooley also acknowledged the pride that he carries for this year's senior class, a class that has a chance to be the winningest in program history.

"Their growth has been tremendous," Schooley said. "They're good Colonials, and we'll be very proud to call them RMU Hockey alumni when our season is finally completed."

The bench boss also recognized what Lewis stated, recognizing that this group of seniors has become very close knit, something that has only benefited the team through the last few seasons.

"They were involved in the most wins in program history last year and they've got a chance to be the winningest senior class of all time," Schooley said. "Other than that, they're just a great group of guys. They get along extremely well, they play hard for each other, and they can give each other criticism and not hold it against each other because they're such good friends."

For Ostergard, this weekend certainly isn't the end of the line. The team feels like they'll still be skating for a few more weeks, and the senior goaltender has his sights on the road ahead.

"Since day one, my goal has not been to be a Hobey Baker finalist," Ostergard said. "My goal has been to make it to the NCAA tournament, and until that happens, I'm not going to be satisfied."

The chance to gain that satisfaction will begin after the upcoming weekend of course, but the team knows that there is still more hockey to be played.

"This is not a goodbye," Schooley said. "This is just the end of their regular season. We feel we've got a lot of hockey left and if we play the way we played this past weekend against RIT, we have the ability to play hockey for a lot longer than just a couple more weeks."

Only time will tell if Colonials will be skating well into the month of March. If the goals become reality, that'd be just one more accolade for this senior class. The class that has just witnessed four years worth of time fly by, and the class that hopes that their time hasn't run out quite yet.

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