While Fairfield University may not have an official Division I hockey team, the school’s club team was one of the best in the nation this year, ranking top five in the entire country on numerous occasions.
Along with their extremely high national rank, the Stags also finished third in one of the most competitive conferences in club-level hockey, The Empire, which earned them a spot in the National Club Hockey Tournament in Philadelphia, Pa.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no national tournament for club hockey last year, but two years prior, the Stags were yet again one of the top teams in the nation and traveled to Dallas, Texas, where they faced some of the best teams in the nation.
Fairfield hockey is a system that is clearly built to win and is a legitimate program, but winning is not the only focus on this team. What they favor more is family, which is emphasized by forward captain Jack Stanton ‘22.
“Fairfield Hockey has been everything I have hoped for and more,” described Stanton. “It has given me countless memories, lifelong friendships, and the opportunity to continue playing the sport I love. To be able to represent this team as a captain was nothing short of a great privilege.”
Stanton, who joined the team as a first-year, captures what it means to be a member of the Fairfield University hockey team, a true leader on the ice. Now that his collegiate hockey career has come to an end, he was able to think of some of his favorite memories while playing for the team.
“The final game of pool play at Nationals in Dallas my freshman year,” said Stanton. “We were down 2-0 with five minutes left to the University of Kansas. We managed to tie it up, and with 26 seconds left, I had the puck on my stick and was fortunate enough to score and send us to the semifinals. With so many family and friends watching back home, and to be able to do that for my teammates will always be one of the best memories during my time here at Fairfield.”
While nationals didn’t end the way the team hoped this year, losing in pool play to Niagara University and Binghamton University, the players were certainly proud of their efforts and success in the season.
Devin Kelley ‘22, who joined the team this year as a defender, was quickly accepted by the squad and was welcomed with open arms. He described the experience as more than smooth.
“I had an unreal time playing puck this year with the boys,” said Kelley. “We had a great group of guys in the locker room and even though it didn’t end the way we wanted, it was still a blast to be a part of.”
Like Stanton, Kelley’s favorite moment of the season consisted of a game where his family and friends were there to show him support; he didn’t even mention whether they won the game or not.
“My favorite memory from this year has to be the playoff game against Farmingdale [State College] at our home rink,” said Kelley. “We had hundreds of fans at the game and it was so cool to look up into the crowd and see all my best friends there cheering us on.”
Clearly, this is a hockey team that holds values much greater than just the sport itself. Although the season is over, the relationship between these players will last a lifetime. Make sure to show your support next season and cheer on your Stags at The Rinks at Shelton in Shelton, Conn. For updates on club sports schedules and other news, follow @fairfielduclubsports on Instagram.