NEW YORK, NEW YORK—
On any given day of the week in New York City you may hear about the powerhouse CUCH Hockey team that is brewing up at the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University. After recently being ranked 11th in the Atlantic division ACHA polls, the Lions have done nothing but score goals and find a way to win games in stupendous fashion.
You’ll read about a 5 point night from Captain Dunn, a 4 goal night from future astronaut Ben Vermette, a rookie scoring leader continuing to pour on the offence in Dennis Franklin—despite continuous bashing from the rough New York media—and even the historical levels of analytical brilliance that defenseman Weston Goodman continues to display. You may even read about Head Sabermetrician Jeremy Coste, or my fellow reporter Mark Rassell, or the bravado and charismatic style of Head Coach Bruce Baker. But there is a certain group of this team that folks should direct a whole boatload of attention towards: the Depth Players.
We’re talking about a group of players whose contributions go far beyond the surface. When the lights at the Ice Hutch go off and the Zamboni gets powered down for the night, the Depth Players on this team continue to make their impact far beyond any measure on the score sheet.
Justin Paik (G), Andy Baran (D), Chris Mendell (D), Jason Cardinale (D), Scott Slater (D), Michael McCullom (D), Joshua Trabout (F), Andrew Toporoff (F), Eitan Hoffman (F), Min Choi (F), Spencer Samelson (F), Jon Macik (F), Jack Winkler (F), Samuel Freilich (F), Arieh Soffer (F), Michael Casserly (F), Alex Killips (G).
The names roll right off the tongue like a murderers row. The group of students that make up the backbone of CUCH Hockey. Although they may be known more for their elite academics than their on ice contribution, the supreme boost of morale, dominant Philly performance, and honest hard work they bring both on and off the ice is what keeps the clock ticking up in Morningside Heights.
I asked a random New Yorker in the streets of the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood what they thought about Sophomore Defenseman Michael McCullom:
“Oh man. I think out of all the CUCH Hockey I’ve watched, I’ve never seen a guy with a bigger motor than Mike. This guy’s an absolute beast. I also heard that in his spare time he skims garbage out of the Hudson River and tutors 8th graders. Just incredible. At the start of the year I was worried he’d be sent down to Barnard D4, but boy was I wrong. He makes me proud to tell anyone who will listen that I support the Columbia Lions Men’s hockey team.”
The impact these guys bring has certainly gotten the attention of New Yorkers. I received a text message the other week from a random number coming from a zip code in upstate New York:
“Here’s what I think about Arieh Soferr, Soffercheck as my wife calls him. What a legend. Where would this team be without him? Probably somewhere in the gutter on Staten Island. I follow CUCH Hockey closer than the Rangers thanks to that guy.”
The heaping of praise on the Depth Players of CUCH Hockey from folks in the NYC metro area comes to the surprise of absolutely no one. Here’s what Larry from Roosevelt Island said about the depth:
“The Blackhawks didn’t win all those Stanley Cups because guys like Johnathan Toews and Patrick Kane were putting the team on their back. They won them because of famous future Calgary Flames players like Troy Brouwer or Brandon Bollig. Depth guys who get the goddamn job done. Like the Greek dude once said all those years ago, ‘I could lift the world if you gave me somewhere to stand’ I think the same goes for these depth guys on the Lions.”
Although Larry did misquote the famous Archimedes quote about levers, it’s clear what he’s getting at; these character bottom-of-the-lineup guys are the foundation and core of the squad.
Folks may also be surprised at some of the analytical anomalies that the Depth Players have produced this season. For example, Min Choi is posting a heroic 0.0989 Grit Factor this season good for 202nd in the country across all levels of collegiate hockey. PM Joshua (Trudeau) Trabout has a 2.0098 Jorgenson Coefficient, good for 554th in the ACHA. Jason Cardinale is displaying an equally impressive 89.55% Coste Percentage of Passing Efficiency, which measures a players ability to make a good first pass coming out of their own end.
Combining the analytical side with the anecdotal side, it’s clear why CUCH Hockey would simply not be what it is today without the help of the conglomeration of phenomenal supporting players. Let’s close out the piece with more fan stories and perspectives of the Depth Players:
“Watching Eitan Hoffman play has added years to my life. I had a God awful case of acute bacterial rhinosinusitis when the CUCH Hockey season started and I’m pretty sure his combination of style of play and character did more good for curing me than my heavyweight prescription of Amoxicillin.” – Ron Giacomo from Yonkers
“Justin Paik is on an absolute heater. Oh my. The other day I heard he donated $500 to the local animal shelter. What a legend. I bought my son his jersey, he’s the reason he wants to be a goalie when he’s older.” – Emmanuel Henderson from Newark
“It really sucks that Michael Casserly was injured at the start of the season. Besides Scott Slater and his lockdown defensive style, Casserly is my favourite player on the squad. I tried to break into the hospital to donate him a body part. But he refused it. Guy is humble.” – Amanda Vorhees from The Bronx
“Andrew Toporoff? Beauty. I accidentally crashed my car and caused an 11 car pile-up driving to Starbucks the other day right at the corner of 117th and Broadway and he pulled me and 5 others from the flaming wreck moments before my car exploded. It’s safe to say that since then he’s my guy on the team.” – Harry Morrison, Sr. from Midtown
“Min Choi playing through allergies that one game is the most heroic and selfless things I’ve seen in my time watching MCHC puck. He’s the straw that stirs the drink in my opinion. And if I had to say, this team is like the Kentucky Porch Sipper of the MCHC. Just delicious. Almost as good as the one from Jacob’s Pickles.” – Bob Cannon from Los Angeles
“I have never heard of any of these people in my life.” – Columbia College Student, Broadway Hall.
Zack Marcil is the Senior Reporter for the Columbia University Men’s Hockey Team, and a Senior Insider covering Ivy League Athletics. Ron from Yonkers told him he has great hair. You can find him on Twitter @longshadowjr