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December 4, 2012

Join the club

Former local stars reap benefits of club hockey at UMass

As they expected, Reilly Cavanaugh and Ryan Daigle have found the best of two worlds, and they’re loving it.

Cavanaugh, a junior from West Newbury who prepped at Berwyck Academy. and the freshman Daigle from Merrimac, who played at Central Catholic, are teammates on the UMass Amherst hockey club team.

Just the club team, you say? It’s a lot more advanced than it sounds. The caliber of play is excellent and it’s run very much like a varsity team.

There are tryouts of 50 to 60 candidates to make the club squad, there is a complete schedule of games throughout New England, the team travels on first-class buses, they usually play in the premier rinks, and the season runs from September until March.

“It’s a good level of hockey,” said Daigle. “It’s better than high school and I think we could beat most Division 3 (college) teams. We’re well disciplined and we’re well coached.”

And it fits the needs of Daigle perfectly. He was looking for a large school with a strong engineering program, but he also wanted to continue playing hockey, realizing that he wasn’t quite good enough to make a Division 1 team, and he didn’t want to make the time commitment to playing varsity college hockey at any level. Thus, he also applied to Virginia Tech, WPI and Purdue, all of which have club hockey teams, before settling on UMass.

Similarly, Cavanaugh was considering Division 3 St. Michael’s in Vermont but opted for the situation in which athletics and academics is more balanced.

“It came down to hockey would have been an everyday thing (at St. Michael’s), even in Division 3, and I didn’t want to make the time commitment,” said Cavanaugh. “This way, I have more time for my studies and other things I want to do.”

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