A special homecoming for Ikkala, as Union wins national title

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
Cole Ikkala was able to go out on top with Union College as National Champions. (Candice Monhollan)

Cole Ikkala was able to go out on top with Union College as National Champions. (Candice Monhollan)

The day before the NCAA Division I ice hockey Frozen Four semifinals game against Boston College last Thursday, Union College (N.Y.) senior Cole Ikkala had the rare opportunity go out on top.

In his last year of college, the Downingtown West High School graduate became a national champion this past Saturday night as he helped lead Union to a 7-4 victory over Minnesota in the title game at the Wells Fargo Center. If that wasn’t special enough, having the opportunity to finish his career in Philadelphia while competing on the sports highest stage was like a dream come true.

“Believe it or not, before the game it just felt like another game,” said Ikkala. “That says a lot to our coaching staff and our leaders. We just treated it like another game and that’s what it felt like. It didn’t feel like the big stage until you got out there and started playing.”

Despite trailing early on, Union rallied back to score three quick goals in the first to take the lead and never looked back, en route to their first national title. Two days prior, they had defeated Boston College, 5-4, in the semifinals of the Frozen Four.

… [Please continue the story on the Daily Local News website by clicking here.]

“I was numb,” Ikkala said. “Four years ago, it was a dream to even make it here with a program that was just starting to win. Now, we’re here. We were in the title game and we won. It’s amazing. I can’t even explain the feeling.”

Ikkala was able to lift the coveted trophy in front of his family, friends and several former teammates from Downingtown West and the Jr. Flyers. On top of that, he had even more support sent his way from those who couldn’t attend.

“I had teachers, students and coaches from Downingtown West and the Jr. Flyers organization texting me and wishing me the best of luck,” he said. “That meant a lot. I was here for seven years and they were part of my development. It’s exciting for me and exciting for them.”

It’s never an easy trek to make it to the Frozen Four and for the Union to do it twice in the last three years is an amazing feat and something Ikkala, who will move on from hockey to the workforce next year, will always cherish this weekend.

“You’re not going to get back here many times in your career, especially in only four years,” he said. “Going out on top is the best way I could have scripted it.”

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Categories: College Sports, Features, Frozen Four, Ice Hockey, Sports

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