SCHENECTADY — Maybe Josh Kosack will get a chance to wear that Santa Claus outfit after all.
He will get a chance to put on his Union hockey uniform again.
The Union College men’s hockey co-captain, known for his Kozi’s Kids charitable endeavors in the community, was named as one of six nominees for the prestigious Hockey Humanitarian Award on Monday.
He had planned to dress up as Santa Claus to hand out gifts to kids at COCOA House during the holidays, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the Santa aspect of it, if not stopping Kosack’s actual fundraising to buy the presents.
With Union’s 2020-21 season also canceled, the senior forward from Oakville, Ontario, had put his name in the NCAA transfer portal, with the intention of graduating with his class this spring and using his final year of hockey eligibility at a different school in 2021-22.
After six weeks of soul-searching and deliberation, Kosack changed his mind recently and will return to play for the Dutchmen. Since Union doesn’t offer post-graduate academic programs, Kosack is withdrawing from the spring term and will re-enroll next fall.
“The biggest thing is, I would’ve regretted it for the rest of my life,” Kosack said by phone on Monday afternoon. “I was named captain this year, but to never actually have played as captain, I think that’s something that would’ve ate away at me. I didn’t want to go out on the terms of COVID canceling our season and, given how last year went, I didn’t want to go out that way.”
The Dutchmen ended the 2019-20 season last March with a double-overtime loss at Yale in which Union had scored the apparent game-winning goal moments earlier, only to have it waved off.
Head coach Rick Bennett named Kosack and Sean Harrison co-captains for this season, but the school decided to cancel its hockey season on Nov. 17. Classmate Darion Hansen is transferring to UConn next season, and Jack Adams transferred to Providence and has played in five games with the Friars so far.
“My initial reaction was graduate with my class, and move on and explore other options, but it just kept eating away at me,” Kosack said. “A couple days later, I called coach Bennett and said, ‘Coach, I don’t know why I’m feeling this way, but I just want to let you know that I’m reconsidering what I said.’
“Then I talked to my parents over, probably, two weeks, and, yeah, I just couldn’t get over not coming back to try to redeem ourselves from last season, and to kind of go out on my own page, and to play as a captain was something that was super-special to me. It probably took me six weeks to decide.”
The decision will also give Kosack further opportunity to operate Kozi’s Kids, through which he has given unused game tickets and concession vouchers to families who might not otherwise go to Union home games at Messa Rink, and counseled the kids on college life and what it takes to be a student-athlete.
Even if fans can’t go to games, Kosack has found other avenues, and was involved in several donation efforts during the holidays.
The Hockey Humanitarian Award winner will be announced during the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh on Friday, April 9.
The other nominees are Kevin Fitzgerald (St. Cloud State), Dyllan Lubbesmeyer (Robert Morris), Grace Markey (Quinnipiac), Andrew Walker/Jacob Adkins (UMass Boston) and Delaney Wolf (St. Mary’s).
Past HHA nominees from Union include Jeff Wilson, Olivier Bouchard, Stephane Boileau, Cole Ikkala and two-time nominee Sebastien Gingras from the men’s team, and Jamie Laubisch and Ashley Johnston from the women’s team.
“I’m super-humbled and super-grateful,” Kosack said.