SCHENECTADY — It’s too early to tell whether Jack Adams’ impending transfer from the Union men’s hockey team signals a mass departure from the program, after the college canceled the 2020-21 men’s and women’s seasons on Tuesday because of COVID-19 concerns.
But it does indicate that the Dutchmen likely will suffer a setback in trying to regain a winning formula when college hockey presumably resumes next season.
The 6-foot-6 senior forward from Boxford, Massachusetts, a Detroit Red Wings draft pick and the projected top goal scorer for Union this season, has entered the NCAA transfer portal for the purpose of joining a team that is playing right now.
That pool of teams includes almost all of Division I, minus eight of 12 schools in ECAC Hockey, which released a modified schedule on Thursday. Union, RPI and the six Ivy League schools that play in ECACH have canceled, leaving Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Quinnipiac and Colgate to represent the league.
RPI also is losing one of its stars, junior goalie Owen Savory, who entered the transfer portal last week and will be on his way to UMass Lowell of Hockey East.
There is at least one extenuating circumstance for Adams, since he missed all of last season with a knee injury suffered in Red Wings prospect development camp in the summer of 2019 and has just one season of college eligibility left.
An option for current Union seniors is to defer two academic trimesters this year to next fall and winter, which would allow them one more season with the Dutchmen. But If Adams had chosen that route, he would have been out of hockey for two full seasons at a time when he is looking toward a pro career, so head coach Rick Bennett wasn’t surprised by the move.
“Not at all. He missed a year of college hockey, and you only get to play four,” Bennett said. “It’s not the most ideal situation, but hopefully he’s going to have some options going forward.
“It’s a lot of guessing right now with COVID and all this other stuff, especially with the transfer portal. Jack stated he was going to go in the portal, we respected it and that’s it. The teams that have interest will reach out to us.”
Senior co-captain Josh Kosack has also put his name in the portal, but he said on Thursday that he still plans to finish his last two terms, graduate from Union, then explore the possibility of using his remaining season of college eligibility somewhere else in 2021-22. Union isn’t an option for that, since the school doesn’t offer a post-graduate academics track.
He had four goals and nine assists as a freshman and was 10-12-22 as a sophomore for a total of 14-21-35, then spent the down time during his junior year rehabbing his knee and getting into shape for a 2020-21 season that was canceled on Tuesday, one day after RPI had announced that the Engineers wouldn’t play.
Bennett has individual interviews about present and future plans scheduled with everyone on the roster, but that process won’t get into high gear until after finals week ends next Tuesday.
Until he gets through those interviews, it’s impossible to say who else might follow the path taken by Adams.
“I don’t think Jack’s in a unique situation,” Bennett said. “But it’s a tough question to answer because I haven’t met with everyone right now. That’s a crystal ball question.”
Among those whom Bennett hadn’t talked to as of Thursday was senior starting goalie Darion Hanson.
Of everyone on the roster besides Adams, Hanson would be the one player for which it’s natural to wonder if he’ll stay.
It’s a gut-wrenching time for every player who has had their season canceled, especially since most conferences are playing, including the ECACH.
Kosack predicted that Hanson wouldn’t have any difficulty landing somewhere if he chooses to transfer.
“He’s a top-end goalie in college hockey, and I’m sure he’ll get to pick where he gets to go; I can’t speak for what his decision will be, I just know how talented he is,” Kosack said. “Any program in the country would be lucky to have him.”
With regard to another classmate, Adams, Kosack said, “He wanted it more than anyone, to play this year and to play for Union, given that he couldn’t play last year because of his injury. But we all know how good Jack is, and he’s going to find a spot.
“It’s a different situation because he couldn’t play last year. Whatever decision anyone makes, I’m going to support them completely. We’ll see what happens in the next couple days.”
ECACH STARTS FRIDAY
The ECACH non-conference schedule will kick off right away, with the Colgate women visiting Syracuse on Friday, a day after the conference announced it’s plan for the four remaining teams.
The first men’s game will be Clarkson at Colgate on Sunday.
The portion of the schedule that will be considered in-conference will be released later and will begin in January.
“We are deeply saddened and sorrowful for the student-athletes, coaches, staff, and all stakeholders at Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, RPI, Union, and Yale,” ECACH commissioner Steve Hagwell said in the schedule release. “ECAC Hockey is the greatest league in the country in large part because of the individuals representing the 12 member institutions.
“The role of the league staff is to support and promote the members, which is what we will do for the programs competing. It is going to look different, but we are confident that we have an exciting season ahead.”