To the Greatest Fans in the World,
We don't even know where to begin with this one. Our final number from the MinuteFund was $5,795 from an astounding 79 donors. We also raised $2,577 from our fundraiser at the Olde Towne Tavern, an additional $3,000 from the ECSA Grant and a whopping $873.57 from the University. It is incredible the support that we received from all of you, exceeding anything that the University did for us and blowing us away with your generosity.
A thank you is simply not enough to express how grateful we are for everyone's support over not only the last week in Iowa, or during the month of fundraising, but over the course of four years of bringing this program to the top. As freshman we started our careers with some of the founders of this Roller Hockey program. We lost in the regional quarterfinals as freshman, unaware of what the national tournament even was. Our sophomore year we struggled so badly that we finished tenth in the ECRHA and did not even make the regional tournament. One year later, this team entered regionals weekend as the fifth seed and made a run to the Regional Championships. One month later, we qualified for Nationals for the first time ever as the twelve seed and shocked everyone, including ourselves, by making it to the National Championship. We thought last year was special, until we started out this season 14-0 and ranked number one in the country.
We lost back to back games on Long Island in late February to St. Joseph's and Robert Morris, turning over the top spot in the East and in the nation, finishing the year as the fourth ranked roller hockey team in the country. We lost to a good Cortland team in the regional semi-finals, and were crushed to not play in the ECRHA Final this year.
We knew we had a shot at a National Championship and that was the number one goal on everyone's mind. Perhaps we got ahead of ourselves coming into the tournament and we ran into a very good, very fast California State Fullerton team in our first game of pool play, dropping the first game of Nationals 5-4. This was exactly the wake up call we needed.
The boys regrouped, got back to playing our game and defeated the second ranked Arkansas Razorbacks and the sixth seeded Robert Morris Colonials. We won Pool B and earned a bye to the sweet sixteen against Syracuse. Stomping Syracuse 11-4 the boys were on a roll. Next up was number three seeded Tennessee, the team we beat in last year's quarterfinal. We took them down in a close one 7-6, sending us to the semis against number one ranked Saint Joseph's.
UMass and St. Joseph's have played several times over the course of our roller careers, every game being decided by one goal, including one that went into overtime earlier this year. They handed us our first loss in February and we knew we needed to take care of business. Jumping out to an early 3-0 lead, and holding on to finish the game with a 6-2 win over number one sent us to the Finals for redemption against Cortland.
Not only was it redemption for us against the team who beat us in regionals, but it was redemption for all of the guys on this team who felt what it was like to lose a National Championship in 2015. The game was a battle. We carried a 2-0 lead over Cortland from the first period all the way through. We gave up a goal with about 4 minutes remaining in the third, but a huge penalty kill sealed the deal as your Minutemen clinched our first National Championship in program history by a score of 2-1!
Now it has all come full circle. From an unranked, unknown team that could not qualify for regionals two years ago, to the 2016 NCRHA National Champions! A huge thank you to everyone who supported us along the way as this Championship would not be possible without the help of our friends and family.
Thank you to the guys who started this program back in 2008. Without your hard work of putting this team together none of us would even know what roller hockey was. To all of our captains and teammates in the past who recruited and built this program from the bottom up, thank you for everything you have done. None of us realized as freshman how much work, time and effort it took to run a program until this year, and we want to thank you for all of your hard work from day one. The support from the alumni has been incredible and to all of our alumni, thank you.
Whether you donated online or attended our fundraiser, streamed the games live or kept in touch with us throughout the trip, thank you to everyone who was a part of this incredible run. We could not be happier to tell all of our supporters that we are the 2016 National Champions because without all of you, this would still be just a dream.
Your University of Massachusetts Minutemen - 2016 NCRHA National Champions