Written by RJ Nealon
- ECGulls.com Contributor
BEVERLY, Mass. — You could think of Corey Eisenband (Larchmont, N.Y.) as an entrepreneur by day and a roller hockey student-athlete by night.
Ever since he could walk, Eisenband has had a knack for generating plays and scoring opportunities as a forward. While growing up, he mostly played ice hockey competitively, but, as he got older, especially during the summer months with his college level buddies, he played on a court.
Fast forward to his time at Endicott College, where he chose to attend the school for its location, his entrepreneurship major, and the internship program, something was still missing. Eisenband knew he wasn't ready to quit playing the sport that fundamentally shaped him into the person he is today.
So, he decided to start up the roller hockey program at Endicott.
"Entrepreneurship is all about determination and creativity," Eisenband said. "You need to have the vision of the finished product if you want to see results. That [vision] being a national championship and we'll get that shot this week."
Today at 10 AM, Eisenband's vision will be on full display as the Gulls open up play at nationals against Maryville University. Endicott also takes on Drexel later in the night at 8:45 PM. To watch games access the schedule here: 2019 National Collegiate Roller Hockey Championships Schedule.
HIS FIRST START-UP, THE ORIGINS OF ENDICOTT ROLLER HOCKEY
To start the program, Eisenband had to get the school on board with the idea. Both had to have the same mindset, and he had to show Endicott how beneficial the program would be to the college.
"It wasn't easy to get the school on board, at first," Eisenband said. "Roller hockey isn't an NCAA sport and club is the highest level there is, so it was challenging to get the same vision. Dr. Richard E. Wylie, before he passed, was a big part of the push."
It's hard to build a program from the ground up without much to go off of, but Eisenband made it work. Despite the fact that the program is mostly made up of former ice hockey players, there was some reluctance by those guys to join in on the fun.
You see, a lot of hockey players look down and make fun of roller hockey, for some reason, but just like Eisenband, they weren't ready to stop playing yet and eventually came around to the idea.
Soon after, the Gulls played their first game, and all was going according to plan. They were leading Northeastern, 2-0, and thought they had the sport figured out.
That attitude was short-lived, however.
"Early in the second period, our goalie went down with a pulled groin and our backup goalie was actually playing as a defenseman but we now needed him in net," Eisenband said. "While he took the time to switch his equipment we had to play without a goalie. It was about seven minutes without a goaltender, and as you may imagine, we did not win the game. That was our first-ever game in program history, and it is safe to say we’ve come a long way since then."
They regrouped, the success followed, and so did student-athletes wanting to be a part of the success.
"Seeing success is always a good way to recruit talent and this year has done just that," he said. "We have incoming college freshmen reaching out to us hoping to play on the team. We didn’t just build a team. We built a program."
The crazy part about it all is that they rarely cut people. The team is very accommodating to the student-athletes, especially during the semester change. If you want to play, the team finds a way to make it work. To not be strict, and have the success they do, tells a lot about the leadership in charge.
THE 2018-19 SEASON
Endicott currently stands at 22-2 overall (14-0 in conference) headed into nationals today. The Gulls captured the program's first Eastern College Roller Hockey Association (ECRHA) Division III regional championship on March 2 behind a 4-1 record in tournament play. The Gulls defeated Temple (9-1), Yeshiva (9-2), Syracuse (8-2), and then Oswego (8-0) in the finals. The last game served as revenge for the Gulls as Endicott lost to Oswego, 4-3, earlier in the tournament.
Meanwhile, for the third consecutive year, the Gulls will be competing for a national championship in Rochester, New York this week, as previously mentioned. A tournament with a 20-team field, the Gulls look to add their first national championship to their resume.
In the last two tournaments, Endicott has lost in the Sweet Sixteen, both by one goal each. They might be the same student-athletes, but it's a different team. They have created a winning culture, one that remains confident and positive headed into nationals this week.
They expect to win, and with the amount of work they put in, they are on the path to do so.
As the tournament will be the last for Eisenband, it won't be for junior Matt Kaski (Sandwich, Mass.), who is in position to take over the president role of the club program. Asking him if he had big shoes to fill his response was this:
"I am planning on continuing the same route we have been going. The team and I are very grateful for what Corey and his family have done for this program," Kaski said. “There would not be an Endicott roller hockey team today without them."
At first thought, you might not think anything of it, just like they did at one point. College-aged boys who once glided across the ice, now do the same on blades. They all have goals — all different from one another — but the same vision at hand.
To be champions.
This story isn't ending like other features; there will be no clichés or quotes to end on a high note.
However, if the success of the program Eisenband built three years ago means anything, he's in a pretty good position to have a successful business and a championship in tow once he leaves Endicott too.