Inspired and Inspiring

Eric Otto image
photo credit: AIC Athletics

Some stories are just too good and so welcome, they need to be featured a second time. In a crowded field of good college hockey stories, American International College is host to several of the sport’s best in the last three seasons. With the lowest operating budget of any DI hockey program, AIC won the Atlantic Hockey Regular Season Championship two years in a row, the 2019 AHC Tournament, and ousted the nation’s top seed (St. Cloud State) in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. But even with all their recent success, Tuesday, December 15, 2020, provided the program’s best and most uplifting story regarding Eric Otto, who was diagnosed with Stage Four Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2018.

Otto fought for his life through 12 rounds of chemotherapy to win the good fight against cancer.

Otto muscled through chemo then worked through a rehabilitation battery to get back on the ice. He skated with the team in the winter of 2020 only for Covid-19 to wipe out the schedule in March. Otto struggled to find a way to practice until late July when he relocated to Buffalo and played roller hockey until he could get back to campus. On Tuesday night, 963 days after his last organized hockey game, which was for the Chicago Steel of the USHL, Otto finally debuted for the Yellow Jackets.

In a time when the best of humanity can be overshadowed, his teammates and Army gave us all a lesson in kindness: AIC head coach Eric Lang put Otto’s line on the ice to start the game. He was the last starter announced, and came onto the ice to a salute by players on both teams. After the game, Army head coach Brian Riley and his players saluted him again.

Please read the full story from Inside Hockey.


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