This Week in the MAAC: Dec. 6, 2001

Home Of The Braves No Longer

In the world of political correctness, MAAC hockey member Quinnipiac University is following the trends, removing the moniker of Braves and opting for anonymous recognition in the middle of the season.

According to a press release issued by the University this week, Quinnipiac will no longer refer to themselves as the Braves and will solicit recommendations for a new mascot. The timing of the announcement leaves the University without any type of name association right in the middle of the season.

Said Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs for Quinnipiac, “Although fond of the tradition we’ve had for 50 years, the university community clearly recognized the difficulties of using a name that has the potential to misrepresent and denigrate an entire group of people. And, despite our clear intention to honor and remember the Native Americans once known as the Quinnipiaks, to do so only through athletics was found to be no longer appropriate.”

Quinnipiac becomes the second NCAA hockey program to change its name this season. Colgate earlier dropped the word Red from its name “Red Raiders.”

But still teams continue to use names referring to Native Americans. North Dakota remains the Fighting Sioux, amid controversy in Grand Forks. Merrimack College continues to hold the name “Warriors” with no obvious intention of changing. Same goes for Wayne State who hold the identical name.

Hell would freeze over before Notre Dame would lose the name Fighting Irish. That name has become symbolic of an athletic program steeped in tradition.

This whole story line, though, give me the chance to editorialize on political correctness in sports. Now before you start writing my editors and complaining, understand this comes from me. Complaints can be filtered directly to [email protected]

Rarely in sports has a name been derived to offend anyone. Should the magicians union be offended because a basketball team in Orlando named themselves the Magic? Maybe jazz artists should be rallying in Utah to change the name of their hoops team, because trust me, there is little jazz being played over the loudspeakers at Utah Jazz games.

Seven years ago, I sat a member of the UMass-Lowell class of 1996 about to enter my third year in college. A great hockey season in 1993-94 had propelled the then-Chiefs to the NCAA tournament. For once, this small state school was beginning to get local and national recognition with a solid branding of the UMass-Lowell Chiefs attached (bear in mind, three years earlier, the state University system demanded that UMass be added to the then-name of the Lowell Chiefs). Then the PC police stepped in.

The University on the Merrimack River needed to find a new name. “Chiefs”, though intending to refer its athletic members as leaders in their own right, was thought of as offensive to Native Americans. Born, suddenly, were the UMass-Lowell River Hawks.

Seven years later, the name still doesn’t roll off anyone’s tongue with ease.

Athletic programs and universities are not, and should not be, immune to following the same code as others. But at some point we have to ask ourselves, “What harm is being done?”

Personally, I believe little-to-none. I do commend schools who have the courage to drop their identity in the name of conformity, such as Quinnipiac. Generally, and I’m sure this is the case in Connecticut, they believe they are providing a more race-neutral world.

But simultaneously, I appeal to those who vocalize damage as the result of such names to take a serious look at the harm being caused. In my opinion, our time is better spent addressing other world issues, particularly in the state our country stands.

Weekly Awards

ITECH MAAC Hockey League Player of the Week:
Louis Goulet, Mercyhurst
Sr., Center, Kapuskasing, Ontario

Goulet had a five-point weekend in a 3-3 tie at Quinnipiac and a 9-0 shutout of Connecticut. Goulet’s power play goal against the Braves tied the game at 1-1 in the first. He then assisted on Mercyhurst’s second goal of the game. Against the Huskies, he scored the game-winner on a power play in the first, scored shorthanded in the second and assisted on the Lakers seventh goal in the third.

ITECH MAAC Hockey League Goalie of the Week:
Peter Aubry, Mercyhurst
Sr., Goalie, Windsor, Ontario

Aubry made 49 saves against UConn and kept the Lakers unbeaten in the conference. It was Aubry’s second shutout of the year; the other came at Fairfield October 26. Aubry is now 5-0-1 in the MAAC with a goals-against-average of 1.80.

ITECH MAAC Hockey League Rookie of the Week:
Chris Garceau, Army
Fr., Forward, Guilford, CT

Garceau had a goal and an assist in both games over the weekend, completing a four-point series against the Bentley Falcons. Garceau was also a plus-5 over the weekend. He put the Black Knights on the board early Friday night with a goal 1:47 into the contest. He later assisted on the sixth goal of the night in the second period.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

With December finally rolling along, that only means one thing. The holiday season is on its merry way.

Without sounding like a Hallmark card, it’s that time of year that I wish all of the readers the happiest of holiday seasons, no matter whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or the many other end- of-the-year holidays.

And even if we don’t all believe in Santa Claus, it shouldn’t stop you from getting a chuckle from my (sort of) tongue-in-cheek look at the holiday wish list of those involved in the MAAC.

(Standard disclaimer: This is meant to be comic relief. In no way should anyone take these letter as real. We probably shouldn’t have to say this, but to be safe, we will!)

To: Santa

From: Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl

Dear Santa:

I know that I’ve been a good boy this year and all of my players have as well. Heck, we’re surprising the heck out of everyone in the MAAC because we’ve won five league games (and even tied two others) before you’ve even come down my chimney.

With all of that in mind, I have very little that I need to ask for from you. I definitely would like you to bring me a lot of wins in the second half of the season as you have for the last three years. I told my players that if they played well in the first half of the year that you’d help me out after Christmas.

I’d also like to ask, also, if you’d help me out come playoff time. All we have to do is win one game and we have a good chance at the MAAC championship. Remember, we’re hosting the MAAC championship so, if we make it, we’ll have tons of rowdy fans to play in front of!!!

Hope that you fly safe on Dec. 24th!


We found this letter from Fairfield’s coach Jim Hunt…

To: Santa

From: Jim Hunt

Dear Mr. Claus:

Boy, am I glad that Christmas is on the way! I really could use some help down here in Southern Connecticut and I think you’re the right guy.

First off, I need to ask that whatever happens, we never have to play those guys at American International again. It looks like their coach got his wishes from last year’s St. Patrick’s Day a little late, because their goalie did his best to frustrate the heck out of us every time we played them.

Now I know that all of you mythical characters hang out together, so if you see the leprechaun, could you send him my way a little BEFORE St. Patty’s Day? I need him around January 27. There are a lot of things in life I don’t want, but I certainly don’t want to lose to my old team, the US Under-18 Team. I know that I’ve been a pretty good boy, so if you can help out in any way, please feel free.

One more thing… If you don’t mind, could you also bring me an effective penalty-killing unit. Now my guys are good guys and they try to stay out of the penalty box, but when they don’t we’re in trouble.

Hope you’re keeping warm up North.


Another letter that just reached Santa’s mailbag this week came from Iona College.

To: Santa

From: Iona coach Frank Bretti

Dear Santa:

Please, Santa, if you have any thoughts on how to score on the power play, can you send them my way? My team is great at scoring goals, but when we get a power play, we just can’t seem to find the net. Any advice?

And, by the way, thanks for making my defense a little stronger.

How’s Rudolph doing, by the way?


Thanksgiving is past now, but if you look at this letter from Erie, Penn., you’d think that Mercyhurst’s coach mixed up the two holidays.

Dear Santa:

Thank you, thank you, thank you! It’s impossible for me to ask for more than you’ve given me. A great goaltender, a few players who can score goals, a MAAC Championship and plenty of recognition at the NCAA tournament are more than I deserve!

Though while I’m here, I might as well ask for something. How about some non-league wins? Colgate was nice, but we could use a few more for Mercyhurst and the rest of the league. We do want to get more scholarships, you know!

Happy holidays!

Rick Gotkin

And one more letter, this from Commissioner Ensor himself.

Dear Mr. Claus:

I would like an expansion to the NCAA Tournament for Christmas. If we had 16 teams, fewer people would say the MAAC doesn’t deserve to be there.

You know, as well as I do, that the world of college hockey will be better off with a 16-team tournament. Hockey certainly makes the NCAA a lot of money.

Also, if you can get that Jim Connelly guy to stop talking about scholarships, it would be helpful. It’s a bridge we can cross over time!

HO! HO! HO! to you!


Happy Holidays

As this is the final column before the Holidays, I wish all our readers a joyous and safe holiday season!

Happy holidays to all.