Special Edition: From ’65 Arena to a Chance at the Pros

After+getting+drafted+in+2013%2C+Colgate+senior+forward+Tim+Harrison+began+his+professional+career+this+spring+with+ECHL%27s+Adirondack+Thunder%2C+an+affiliate+team+of+the+Calgary+Flames.

After getting drafted in 2013, Colgate senior forward Tim Harrison began his professional career this spring with ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder, an affiliate team of the Calgary Flames.

Reed Schultz

Hockey at Colgate has always been taken seriously. Hockey, perhaps more than any other sport played here, consistently competes at the national level and is an athletic program that brings a lot of pride to the Colgate community. The men’s hockey team is in one of the toughest collegiate divisions out there. Although the team just got a brand new, state of the art rink, the program has consistently been able to draw a lot of talent (predominantly from the U.S. and Canada). Every single year, players on the team (predominantly seniors) lace up their skates and attempt to make it to the next level, which typically comes in the form of the AHL.

This spring, after finishing up the regular season, seniors Tim Harrison and Jake Kulevich signed professional contracts to play in the American Hockey League (AHL). Kulevich signed with the Manitoba Moose, while Harrison signed for the Adirondack Thunder. Both these players dream of continuing their professional hockey careers after graduating and hope to make it to the NHL at some point. When asked about their experiences both responded with extreme positivity. Kulevich shared his thoughts on what the experience was like.

“It was an incredible experience. It was really a dream come true for me to be able to play hockey professionally. Playing in Winnipeg was great, and the fan base in their city is wild,” Kulevich said.

Beyond the new cities and teammates, the style of play was also noticeably different at the professional level. Both players noticed how the game sped up and was more strategic, rather than the “run and gun” style of the ECAC. Whether it was Harrison’s first professional fight or Kulevich’s team knocking a rival out of playoff contention, both players cherished the opportunity and felt that it was a dream come true. With that being said, however, they both noted that there was something special about playing in front of Colgate students and local Hamiltonian fans. Kulevich commented on the teams’ special relationship with the Hamilton community.

“Local fans provide the majority of our fanbase here at Colgate. They mean a lot to not just the hockey program, but all of the sports programs. I thought our team had a unique relationship with the town here in Hamilton. It is a small tight knit community so everybody seems to be closer and more supportive,” Kulevich said.

“The local fans here at Colgate play a large part in our success. It is always so cool seeing familiar faces in the crowd at all of our games, and it shows how much they care about our team and school. Any chance I get to give back to them, whether it is going to the schools or just simply a hug after the game, I am more than happy to do so. They are just as big of a part of our team as we are,” Harrison said, echoing Kulevich’s sentiment.

Harrison also commented on his favorite moment playing in the AHL, which was truly a memorable experience for him.

“The best part of being with the Thunder was learning the ins and outs of what it is like to be a pro. Also, I got into my first pro fight, so that was pretty cool. I didn’t really have a least favorite part about it, but I would have to say being away from Colgate and my friends was different for sure,” Harrison said.

Although both Kulevich and Harrison missed a lot of school to play in the AHL, their experience was truly exciting and one that they will likely cherish forever. Hopefully they will be able to attain their dreams of playing pro hockey and rep Colgate in the majors. Both Harrison and Kulevich have been dominant forces for the Raiders all four years of their collegiate careers; they have led the team on and off the field and will certainly be missed next season. Although the Raiders did not have a great record this past season, it is still very exciting that playing hockey did not end for some of the seniors. It will be interesting to see how their AHL careers go and whether or not they will land a contract at the highest level in the NHL.