• Columbia Hockey Writers

BRING THEM HOME: PART I

Zack Marcil,


Across the Globe – Canada, USA, South Korea

After a soul crushing loss to rival Suffolk to put a cap on a historically resurgent Columbia Hockey season, things only got worse on campus. Coronavirus (COVID-19) put a wrap on the academic year early. Luckily for Columbia students, President Lee Bollinger took the reins and once again showed the world why he’s the highest paid private school President in the United States, closing Columbia University’s campus in proactive fashion.

Only one problem: the premature ending to the school year left the roster with fewer chances to enrich themselves with knowledge until campus in Morningside Heights goes back to business as usual in September.

I emailed a student majoring in Russian Literature what he thought of the campus shut down and transition to online classes:


“It sucks big time. It really, really, really sucks. Big time. Columbia University is the place to be. This is especially true after the hockey team rejuvenated the place. I hate that I gotta go back home to Bellflower, California. I wanna be on campoos (sic) as often as possible. But these things happen and I trust Prez Lee Bowl (sic) to do what’s right for the student body. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish The Brothers Karamazov sooner rather than later.”

Evidently, students are disappointed with the shutdown.

The Russian Literature student provided me with a segue, though, when he mentioned he needed to go back home to Bellflower, California. Columbia University has students from every corner of the globe, so I decided to do some research on how the hockey team – which too has players from all around the globe – was getting home amidst the chaos of a premature end to the school year. Besides, has there ever been a better chance for LSJ to put his Wikipedia proficiency to work?

BEN VERMETTE (A)

Country: Canada

Hometown: St. Agapit, Quebec

Hometown Fun Fact: Named after Pope Agapetus I

Ben Vermette had a thrilling time on the way back home to the town they named after Pope Agapetus I. First he left Columbia campus with nothing but a backpack, knowing he’d be back to pack up more stuff with his father, and caught a cab to JFK. The cab driver, thinking he was funny, said to Ben, “Isn’t it hilarious how John F. Kennedy was named after an airport? Lmao.” As the cab stopped and started on the Van Wyck Expressway, Ben leaned up front and said, “The airport is named after JFK, not the other way around, and where I’m going is named after Pope Agapetus I, not the other way around. Keep the change.” Frustrated by the driver’s historical inaccuracies, Ben then handed the cabby $350, and walked the rest of the way to the airport on the side of Van Wyck, missing his flight by 3 hours.

Ben Vermette on the Van Wyck Expressway


ANDY DUNN (C)

Country: Canada

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta

Hometown Fun Fact: Ranked the most livable city in North America in 2018 and 2019

Andy Dunn decided to bicycle all the way back home to Calgary once he found out that Columbia was shutting down, a feat that took him 3 days. During a pit stop for some water and Gatorade at a gas station in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the capital and most populous city of the US State of Wyoming, he overheard some locals in line at the cash register, “Bro I swear dude, Cheyenne is easily the most liveable city in North America. It’s just dirt nasty 2.0 here.” Captain Dunn took off his cycling helmet, “Actually,” throwing a lemon lime 2L Gatorade and 3 Aquafina waters on the counter, “That’s Calgary, baby.” Taken aback by Dunn’s guile, the gentlemen paid for his Gatorade and waters, and got him to sign their CUCH Hockey phone cases. It took him 277 more pit stops on the bike before making it home to Calgary.

KYLE LOPES (A)

Country: United States of America

Hometown: San Jose, California

Hometown Fun Fact: Has 15,950 acres of Parkland within city limits

Kyle Lopes said goodbye to the boys and hopped on his flight at LaGuardia, a direct to Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. As the plane touched down back home he overheard an elderly couple talking about the suspended NHL season in the seats in front of him. They continued to discuss this all the way to the baggage carousel. The woman was no younger than 82 years old, and at the carousel the conversation had shifted from Sharks hockey to a mix of Sharks hockey and municipal cityscape, “Jumbo Joe Thornton once told me that there are 16,000 acres of Parkland in our great city.” The old woman croaked to her husband. Lopes stepped in and hoisted her bag off of the carousel, “It’s actually 15,950 acres, ma’am. I’m gonna need you to get that right next time.” Joe Thornton was right behind them holding luggage, and the ancient couple was stunned at his precision for San Jose’s park acre count. They told Lopes they would like to order 500 CUCH Hockey jerseys. Figures, as San Jose is the county seat of Santa Clara County, one of the most affluent in the nation. Joe Thornton drove Lopes home, chuckling the whole way about how he had never met the old couple in his life.

Michael Casserly

Country: United States of America

Hometown: New York, New York

Hometown Fun Fact: Stamp Act Congress met there during the American Revolution

Michael Casserly lives in the same city that Columbia University is in, and therefore did not have to go to great lengths to get home after Lee Bollinger shut down operations. He was quarantined in his apartment a few days ago when he got a call from an unknown number. As he picked up the phone, he saw a man walking down the street with a Columbia hockey jersey on for the 5th time that day alone. “Hello?” Casserly answered. “Mr. Casserly I have important information for you regarding the Stamp Congress Act that met in New Hampshire during the American Revolution, and if you don’t answer correctly you’ll be “terminated” within the month. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” The aggressor was booming over the phone. “That’s bullshit” Casserly said, calmly taking a sip of coffee and sitting back in his chair. “It met right here in the Empire City” he said, and hung up the phone.

Arieh Soferr

Country: United States of America

Hometown: Beverly, Massachusetts

Hometown Fun Fact: Has a dispute with nearby Marblehead, MA over which is the birthplace of the US Navy

Arieh Soferr got on his train at Grand Central Station to a serenading chorus of “Soferrcheck! Soferrcheck! Soferrcheck!” like always. He sat down in his seat and noticed the gentleman in front of him was reading a book titled “The United States Navy, did it Originate in Beverly, MA, or Marblehead, MA? The Trials and Tribulations of Two Towns who each want to be known as the Birthplace of the United States Navy” Arieh chuckled to himself, obviously knowing the correct answer, and ordered a green tea from the attendant. He was too much of a gentleman to bluntly correct this random person like his previously mentioned teammates. Instead, as he got off at his stop in Boston, he walked right by the passenger reading the book, waltzed into the train conductor’s quarters, and said over the Pa system, “That’s CUCH hockey baby.” The train car erupted in applause.

The train Arieh Soferr was on


Samuel Freilich

Country: United States of America

Hometown: New York, New York

Hometown Fun Fact: Nicknamed “The Big Apple”

Much like Casserly, Samuel Freilich did not have to travel anywhere after President Lee Bollinger cancelled order on the remainder of the academic year. Instead, he decided to tug at his heart strings and read one of his favourite feel good stories, an exchange between New York City and Columbia, South Carolina. A couple of years after the civil war ended, Columbia, SC needed a firetruck. The gold-hearted firefighters of New York City chipped in money to buy them one. Afterwards, Columbia made a promise to not let the deed go unforgotten, and said they would return the favour “should misfortune ever befall the Empire City”. With a tear in his eye, Freilich reached his favourite part of the story where Columbia, SC sent NYC a fire truck after the devastation of 9/11. “That’s what it’s all about” he said with a smile. The floor above his apartment, he could hear Casserly correcting a prank caller about where the Stamp Congress Act met. Freilich had thwarted the call earlier that morning.

Jack Winkler

Country: United States of America

Hometown: Hewlett, New York

Hometown Fun Fact: Females account for 52% of the population

Jack Winkler was headed back home to the small hamlet and census designated place of Hewlett, New York. He took the Long Island Rail Road service from Penn Station in Midtown all the way out to the Hewlett Station, where he was greeted by a hockey journalist (not Clara Ence Morse) “Mr. Winkla, Mr. Winkla, can I get a few words about the hockey season?” Always eager to fulfill his player duties and talk to the difficult NYC media, Jack agreed. “Can you talk a bit about what it was like to lose to your hometown team in the first game of playoffs?” Disappointed in the reporters lack of local geographical knowledge, Jack started to walk away and politely said, “They’re from Suffolk county, sir. Not my hometown at all.” The reporter couldn’t believe himself. How could he have forgotten that Jack was from Hewlett, which is in Nassau county? Disgruntled, he picked up the phone and called LSJ, another difficult geographical mistake for Jr. Reporter Matteo Rossello to swallow.

Jon Macik

Country: Most likely United States of America

Hometown: ???

Hometown Fun Fact: ???

Unfortunately, I was unable to reach Jon Macik so he could tell me his hometown, but what we do know is that he resides in the USA. Perhaps he is neighbours with Winkla? Perhaps Jr. Reporter Matty Redpoll also got his home county wrong? We may never know. What I can say is, through a diverse, intertwined database and unique player profile motherboard, the Office of LSJ was informed that Macik made it home safe. Jon Macik was voted “most likely to not reveal his hometown” and “Most mysterious” by his fellow students in high school.

Gabriel Kim

Country: South Korea

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Hometown Fun Fact: Ranked as an Alpha World City

After teammate Min Choi snagged the last seat on all the flights back to their hometown of Seoul, Gabriel Kim was left with a much more outlandish trip home. His flight schedule was as follows: JFK to Denver, Denver to Seattle, Seattle to Vancouver, Vancouver to Osaka, Osaka to Gimpo International. Overall, Gabriel had to soak 3 more flights than Minna. I had a chance to ask Gabriel what he thought about MC29 snagging the last seats on the JFK to Seattle, Seattle to Gimpo flights, “These things happen, yknow? What I’m more concerned about is why there weren’t more flights? Like, we’re talking about an Alpha World City here. It’s not like I’m headed back home to Hewlett with Winkla or something like that. This is Seoul we’re talking about. Oh well, what can you do right? At least I didn’t have to bike home like Dunna.” Right as I received that text from Gabriel, Jr. Reporter Mabel Rondell hit me with another “you hate to see it” geographical error, saying he was, “surprised” that two of the players on CUCH Hockey were from “North Korea”

Min Choi

Country: South Korea

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Hometown Fun Fact: The “Forsythia" is the official flower of Seoul

Min Choi felt awful when he heard that he was the reason why teammate Gabriel Kim had to wear an extra 3 flights to get back home to Seoul. Being the team player and kind-hearted individual that he is, he dug up old footage from the online CUCH hockey database of Gabriel laying out a bone crushing body check on a STAC player (the name will not be disclosed, but it rhymes with Dawn Henson) from earlier this season. He texted the footage to Gabriel, “Biggest hit of the season bro.” The video has since gone viral in South Korea with over 125 million views on YouTube. The Kim residence has been getting bouquets of Forsythias in the mail ever since the video was put online. Folks have even been starting a “Gabriel Kim for mayor” campaign. What an assist by everyone’s favourite player MC29. With Gabriel’s rising fame in their hometown, look for CUCH hockey online broadcasts to go from an average of 2 viewers (myself and Milos Reggell) to nearly the entire population of Seoul (9.7 Million)

**Keep an eye out for Part 2, featuring the remainder of the team**

Zack Marcil is the Senior Reporter for the Columbia University Lion Hockey team, and a Senior Insider for Ivy League Athletics. You can find him on Twitter at @longshadowjr

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