The ingredients to a championship team is not the height of its talent, or the records they possess, its not the amount of points they can score, or who they play. What makes a team truly great is the character which defines them. It is their ability to absorb defeat, and weather adversity, only to reach down inside themselves and find the warrior’ spirit that unites them even stronger around the principle that losing is no longer an option, not because they can win, but because they should win. Eight games into the season, the West Chester hockey team had a decision to make. Coming off an embarrassing showing at the ACHA showcase in October, losing three straight and dropping their record to 3-5, the Golden Rams could have easily succumb to the disappointment of their record. But as they say, you can learn a lot about the true character of a team in dire circumstances, and the Golden Rams decided they were not going to accept this mediocrity as their fate, and thus began their journey to set the ACHA ablaze.
Three consecutive wins later by a combined score of 24-5, West Chester had caught its stride. Now oozing confidence, the tight knit group of players, led by Bob Kenworthy, Bobby Jones and Rob Troxell, had done what they set out to do after the sour start to the season become a team to recon with, not only in their conference, but in the country.
The following week gave the Golden Rams exactly what they wanted, a chance to gain national respect by defeating a top ranked Penn State team on the road.
Yet the Nittany Lions proved too tough, easily downing West Chester, 6-1. Instead of taking this defeat as a sign of inferiority to the heavyweights in the ACHA, the Golden Rams united again. Backed with unsung tough play from players like Adam Jordan, Luke Benner and Kenny Bergeron, West Chester went on a tear, winning seven in a row.
In a much anticipated rematch against the seemingly invincible Penn State Nittany Lions, West Chester showed that they were ready to be recognized. Though the team names were the same, a much different West Chester team showed up to play. Trading blows like a heavyweight fight, the Golden Rams surprised Penn State, taking them to overtime, and eventually a shoot out, where the legend of Corey Hackney was born.
Freshman goalie Corey Hackney took the Golden Rams on his back, and in a divine fashion, silenced the great offensive power of Penn State, giving West Chester the miraculous win in a shoot out. This win was exactly what the Golden Rams needed to jolt themselves into legitimacy on the national stage, but more importantly giving the Golden Rams the confidence they needed to take down other beasts of the ACHA.
That is precisely what they did a week later, splitting games with division rival, and top 5 team University of Rhode Island, handing Rhode Island their only division loss of the season.
Eight wins later, including two against a stingy University of West Virginia team, and one against cross border University of Delaware, shot West Chester from a modest #20 in the nation to #10 in only 2 months. This rapid upgrade in rank is unheard of in the ACHA, and shows the amount of national respect West Chester has gained by their spirited play. After winning their conference, the Golden Rams gained an automatic bid to the ACHA playoff tournament in Youngstown, Ohio, featuring the best teams in the country. West Chester is hardly intimidated by the big names in the tournament, and senior captain Rob Troxell echoes these sediments by saying “We feel like we can skate with anybody the ACHA has to offer, and there is no better chance to prove it than at the national tournament.”
This record breaking season for West Chester is attributed directly to the character of the players. Earning the respect of each other and the rest of the country, the national tournament gives these deserving West Chester Golden Rams a chance to finish what they started, and bring home their first national title.