Saying goodbye to the men’s hockey team for good

Matthew Wright is the last graduating player from the St. Thomas University men's hockey team. (Hillary Latham/AQ)

During the second semester of the 2015-16 St. Thomas University men’s hockey season, an email was sent out to all the players and a mandatory meeting was called. Little did the players know, that would be the day the men’s hockey team would be cut.

Fourth-year student Matthew Wright is the last graduating player from the team. He said the one year he played for the team was the best year of his life. As a Fredericton-native, Wright had fallen in love with the STU campus.

“I had offers to go elsewhere, but I loved the school and they were very accommodating to the players once the decision was made,” said Wright.

But Wright said the announcement to cut the team was a shock to all the players.

“It was definitely a life changing day when the team folded,” he said.

According to documents obtained through a Right to Information request, the men’s hockey program was cut in April 2016 due to costs.

Wright came to STU in September 2015 to play for the men’s hockey team.

“I came for the hockey and I said I’ll figure out what I want to do when I’m there.”

In 2016, the graduating players finished their degree by playing on the team. But when the team was cut, that changed everything for the non-graduating players.

The men’s hockey team was cut in Wright’s first year. (Hillary Latham/AQ)

“The team folds that one day and it’s like, ‘Alright, that’s my whole life, what do I do now?’” Wright said.

While some players graduated and some left STU to play hockey at other universities, a select few decided to stick it out at STU without a team to play on.

“The next year when I stayed, it was time to start making some new friends and figuring out some other sides of me I didn’t know of,” Wright said.

Wright said it took time to adjust. Realizing he’s the last player from the team to graduate made him think back to his first year.

“We went out for a team dinner one night and it wasn’t a dress-up event but my captain and assistants told me that we had to be really dressed up so I went in a full suit and everyone else was wearing casual clothes,” said Wright.

“Just stuff like that you remember, funny pranks between friends.”

Wright said even though he was only on the team for a year, he still made some lasting friendships.

“Playing for STU was a dream come true and I made friends for life,” Wright said.

“People don’t realize how much time you spend with your team. You have classes together, work out together, go to practice and play games … you build a family with the guys.”

With files from Shannon Cornelius