Union was scheduled to open the season with a flight to South Bend, Ind., for a two-game series against Notre Dame on Oct. 11 and 12. But in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, the Dutchmen have changed their mode of transportation. The team will now take the bus to South Bend.
“Obviously, a lot of people are grieving around the country, and we wanted to be sympathetic to that,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said during the team’s media day Thursday at Achilles Rink. “Certainly, it hit close to home in our own family with [assistant coach] Kevin Patrick and the loss of his brother. We wanted to be sympathetic to the student-athletes, first and foremost.
“We have some boys on the team who don’t like to fly to begin with. If you think about it, if you’re a parent in western Canada and your son is at Union College, I’m sure there would be some concerns with us flying so close to the tragic events.”
Had the Dutchmen stayed the course and flown, they would have been subjected to a four-hour wait each way because of increased airport security. Every item the team would take, from luggage to equipment bags, would have to be examined.
That would have cost the Dutchmen their biggest highlight of the trip — a chance to see the Notre Dame football team play West Virginia on Oct. 13.
“Like President Bush said, you’ve got to act like normal Americans,” junior defenseman Randy Dagenais said. “Thank God, everything is back to the same plan. We’re still going to get to see that football game, which for me is a big thrill.”
Sneddon estimates the bus trip will take 11 hours. The team will leave after classes Oct. 9, drive five hours to Erie, Pa., and stay there overnight. The trip will resume the next morning.
The players should be used to the bus ride, since that’s the way they travel in the ECAC. It will give them a chance to bond.
“I think that’s important going into our season opener,” senior forward and team captain Jeff Wilson said. “We have to make sure the guys get a lot of movies.”
For Dagenais, it will feel like he’s back in his junior hockey days.
“I’d rather be on a bus watching a movie than sitting in an airport for four hours waiting,” he said. “It’ll give us a chance to get to know each other. I’ll get a chance to play some cards in the back and hang out with the guys.”