Cole Ikkala had several goals in mind when he arrived at Union College in the fall of 2010.
Ikkala wanted to play hockey, get a good education, get his degree and have a job lined up when he graduated. The senior forward accomplished all of those goals, and then some.
While some of his teammates are pursuing pro hockey opportunities, Ikkala is hanging up his skates. After helping the Dutchmen win the NCAA title April 12, Ikkala is headed into the business world. He will begin a job in August with PricewaterhouseCoopers as risk assurance associate.
“This is a decision I made before I even came to Union,” Ikkala said. “I knew I was going to quit playing hockey after college. That’s why I chose a school like Union. Obviously, the hockey was great at that point, as well, but I knew that it was a school that would be able to set me up for life after college.
“It’s always hard giving up the sport you played your whole life. But going out on top, I couldn’t be any happier.”
Shortly after Union beat Minnesota in the title game, senior defenseman Mat Bodie signed with the New York Rangers and junior defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere joined the Philadelphia Flyers. Senior forwards Daniel Carr, Matt Hatch and Kevin Sullivan are attempting to pursue their hockey careers at the pro level.
That still didn’t tempt Ikkala from changing his mind.
“I never even thought of it,” said Ikkala, who served as an alternate captain this season. “I’m sure there was some interest [from pro teams] there. In talking with Union coach [Rick] Bennett, it’s always my goal to get a good job, and that’s where he always helped me.”
Ikkala, who had seven goals and 12 assists in 114 career games, embodies the definition of student-athlete. The economics major recorded a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in the winter trimester, Ikkala’s fourth straight trimester with a 4.0.
He completed his class load in the winter trimester, so he is officially a graduate. His final GPA was a 3.83. He is a two-time winner of the team’s Charles N. Morrison Award, which goes to the hockey player who participates in an extracurricular activity while demonstrating academic achievement.
This season, Ikkala was a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and was a Hockey Humanitarian Award nominee.
“He’s a very cerebral guy,” Bennett said. “He did a tremendous job in the classroom. He just decided to enter the work force. I think it’s an excellent decision. I always enjoy guys that have never ever come across your desk and never see a note from a professor saying this guy needs to pick it up.
“He’s always taken his school work first class, and that really helped him with his progression as a hockey player because he never had to worry about school because he always took care of school. He’s a tremendous example for every player in the future, and the current players here now, on how to do it the right way.”
While his teammates and fellow students go through the rigors of the spring trimester, Ikkala can relax and enjoy college life while waiting for the graduation ceremony in June. But he does have one job left.
“I guess you can call me the housewife around here,” Ikkala said. “I try to cook a little bit and try to clean up things, but I walk around campus with my housemates and stay involved in everything.”
Union will face Boston University for the first time in program history. The teams will play at BU on Jan. 3. The Terriers will make their first visit to Messa Rink in 2015-16. . . .
Dutchmen 2014-15 recruit Kevin Shier was named the most valuable player of the Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs after leading the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots to the OJHL Buckland Cup championship. The Patriots clinched the title with a 3-1 win over the Aurora Tigers on Sunday. Toronto won the best-of-seven series, 4-2. Shier had an assist in the game. Shier had eight goals and 24 assists in 19 games.
RPI schedule released
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will open its ECAC Hockey schedule Oct. 31 when it hosts NCAA champion Union on Oct. 31, the Engineers announced Wednesday. That will be RPI’s Black Friday game.
The Engineers released their 36-game regular-season schedule, plus one exhibition game. There will be two other games against Union — Nov. 1 at Messa Rink and the Mayor’s Cup game Jan. 24 at the Times Union Center.
RPI will open the season with the Ice Breaker tournament Oct. 10, when they take on tournament host Notre Dame. The Engineers will face either Minnesota-Duluth or NCAA runner-up Minnesota on Oct. 12.
RPI plays its first regular-season home game Oct. 24 against Bentley.
Other non-league opponents RPI will play are Denver, UConn, New Hampshire, Michigan, Boston U. and Miami (Ohio).
The Big Red Freakout game is against Yale on Feb. 14.