With a 2-0 win over Holy Cross on senior night, AIC’s men’s ice hockey team clinched its second consecutive outright Atlantic Hockey Association regular season title, proving that the Yellow Jackets’ Cinderella 2018-2019 season was no anomaly. The Saturday, February 22, 2020, conference-clinching victory capped off an eleven-game win streak. AIC finished the 2019-2020 season ranked twentieth nationally and with a 21-12-1 overall record.
“All any college athlete wants to do is leave the program in a better place than it was when they arrived,” Head Coach Eric Lang ’98, MS ’08, told his senior class at the conclusion of the season. “Mission accomplished.”
FEBRUARY 1, 2020
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (center) performed the ceremonial puck-drop with AIC Team Captain Hugo Reindhardt (left) and Mercyhurst’s Quinn Wichers (right) at AIC hockey’s game against Mercyhurst University at the MassMutual Center. A reception welcoming Gov. Baker directly preceded the Saturday matinee game that saw the Yellow Jackets beat the Lakers in high-scoring fashion, 7-4. Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno, Hon ’16, was also in attendance.
Track and Field Outpaces The Competition
The track and field team dominated the U.S. Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association’s East Region awards slate. Freshman Roxan Foster earned East Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year, senior Dahsia Middlebrooks earned East Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, and senior Benoit Campion was named East Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year. Additionally, assistant coaches Logan Sharpe and Matt Jacobson were named Women’s and Men’s Assistant Coaches of the Year, respectively.
Ice Hockey Standouts Honored
Six members of the ice hockey team earned Atlantic Hockey Association All-Conference honors following the conclusion of the regular season. Seniors Martin Mellberg and Hugo Reinhardt earned Third-Team accolades, senior Patrik Demel picked up Second-Team honors, and seniors Blake Christensen and Zackarias Skog and junior Brennan Kapcheck were named First-Team honorees. Additionally, Skog was named the Goaltending Champion while head coach Eric Lang repeated as Coach of the Year.
Gonzalez Wins 2020 Super Region I Championship
Wrestling junior JoJo Gonzalez became AIC’s first regional wrestling champion in 19 years, winning the 157-pound weight class at the 2020 Super Region I Championship. Gonzalez won the title bout over Gannon University’s Evan Fisler with a pin at the 14-second mark of the second period after executing a quick escape and takedown.
Basketball Legend Henry Payne’s Number Ten Retired
At the second annual basketball reunion on Saturday, February 8, 2020, former Yellow Jackets basketball star Henry Payne ’68, MBA ’75—a 2006 inductee into AIC’s Athletic Hall of Fame—became just the second athlete in school history to have his jersey retired. Mayor Domenic Sarno, Hon ’16, and Congressman Richard E. Neal ’72, Hon ’90, were among those in attendance at the Henry A. Butova Gymnasium to honor the Springfield native who turned down more than two hundred college basketball scholarship offers in order to stay in the city, close to his widowed mother. In 1968, during his senior season, Payne led AIC to the Division II Final Four.
Coach Wilkins Retires After 26 Seasons
Head football coach Art Wilkins called it a career after twenty-six seasons at the helm of AIC’s football program. Wilkins retired as the winningest coach in Northeast-10 Conference history with 129 victories, four conference titles, and two NCAA Tournament appearances while coaching over 150 All-Conference selections and twenty-four major conference award winners. In recognition of his retirement, Wilkins was honored during an ice hockey game against Providence College on January 9, 2020, with a special reception and ceremonial puck drop.
Field Hockey Excels in The Classroom
AIC’s field hockey team earned a slew of academic honors from the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. The team earned the NFHCA’s National Team Academic Award, and seven student-athletes – seniors Georgia Barnes, Chelsea Davis, and Katelynn Leclerc, sophomores Shannon Cormier and Lily Watson, and freshmen Kirstin Snethlage and Taylor Wildes—were selected to the National Academic Squad.
Tolbert Named Second-Team All-American
Junior defensive lineman Isiah Tolbert was selected as a Second-Team All-American by Don Hansen Football Committee, one of just two All-American selections in the Northeast-10 Conference. Tolbert was the second-leading tackler on the team with 71, including 7 sacks for a loss of 46 yards as well as 18 tackles for a loss of 71 yards, both of which were top-two for defensive linemen in the NE10.
AIC Hosts Inaugural HoopHall Prep Showcase
Featuring matchups between the country’s top prep basketball programs, AIC played host to the inaugural HoopHall Prep Showcase on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend, January 17-19, 2020. The event was a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Spalding HoopHall Classic, a five-day showcase of top high school basketball players and teams in the US, held annually at Springfield College’s Blake Arena. Pictured: NBA Academy Africa guard Grace Aluma defends Bosco Institute (IN) guard Nicholas Boyd.
Beattie Becomes AIC Lax Record-Breaker
Men’s lacrosse senior Eddie Beattie set a new standard for the program in caused turnovers during the shortened 2020 season: he caused 19 changes-of-possession in AIC’s favor in just six games, giving him a career total of 68, now the most in the history of the men’s team.
Siders Scores Big in Final Game of AIC Career
Women’s basketball senior Rashana Siders ended her career on a high note, scoring 17 points in the team’s final game of the season to reach the 1,000-point mark. She is the twenty-third player in the history of the women’s team at AIC to reach quadruple digits.