Nick McAdam, Sports Editor
Utica College’s men’s hockey team grasped the UCHC Championship before the team’s season was taken away from them at the hands of COVID-19. The Pioneers finished with a .897 win percentage, the highest the team has seen in recent years.
In addition to the team’s recent title success, the Pioneers continue to supplement the team with new talent before the beginning of each season. One talent that caught the eyes of the United States College Hockey Online (USCHO) was Utica’s own Brandon Osmundson, who claimed the site’s Rookie of the Year for the 2019-20 Division III season.
Osmundson, a 21-year-old first-year forward, finished with 13 goals and 29 assists for 42 points with Utica on the season. All three categories, in his first year, led the entire team’s offensive production.
Despite the accolade, Osmundson still gives credit to his teammates and especially head coach Gary Heenan, who won the site’s Coach of the Year and has made the forward “a smarter player than before.”
“He has helped me by addressing certain areas of my game that I need to improve,” Osmundson said. “Being able to win one-on-one battles in the corner or being able to think smarter on the ice.”
Osmundson’s key production came during the playoffs against Nazareth College and Wilkes University as the forward collected 12 points in a span of four games. He collected points in games for the entire month of January and scored two hat tricks against Manhattanville College and Chatham University in a 9-3 team win.
Osmundson said he believes in more than just numbers on the ice. The forward enjoyed the playoff experience, noting specifically the unbelievable fan experience and to cap off the season winning 20-straight games.
But Osmundson’s roots for the game, like most players, runs deep within stories from growing up playing the game. Osmundson credits a lot of what he’s able to do to the contributions of his family.
“My favorite hockey story would have to be when I was about six or seven years old and my mom took me to hockey practice one night,” Osmundson said. “We were in a rush and she had never tied my skates before. We were in such a rush she put my left skate on my right foot and my right skate on my left foot. I could barely skate when I got out on the ice and about ten minutes into practice my coach took me off the ice and had to take my skates off to put them on the right foot.”
Osmundson has come a long way from wearing his skates on the wrong feet. In fact, the forward is starting to collect and think about goals and areas of improvement for himself and the team heading into next season.
“What I hope from myself moving forward is to just keep working on my weaker areas of the game and to contribute however the team needs for a win,” Osmundson said. “My main team goal is to build off the season we had this year and go on a run like we did this year.”