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Hockey: NCAA East Regional a Wilson family reunion

Hockey: NCAA East Regional a Wilson family reunion

Coaches and players never like to look ahead because the focus is always on the game at hand.
Hockey: NCAA East Regional a Wilson family reunion
Wayne Wilson is the head coach at RIT; his son Stu plays for Yale. Both teams are in Albany this weekend for the NCAA hockey East Regional at Times Union Center and could be playing in the final on Sunday night.

Coaches and players never like to look ahead because the focus is always on the game at hand.

Rochester Institute of Technology head coach Wayne Wilson is trying to prepare for his fourth-seeded team’s NCAA hockey tournament East Regional semifinal against top-seeded and top-ranked Quinnipiac on Saturday at the Times Union Center.

Yale senior forward Stu Wilson is looking forward to facing second-seeded UMass Lowell in the other semifinal.

But there is a chance for some drama in Sunday night’s regional final. Father could be coaching against son for a chance to go to the Frozen Four.

Wayne Wilson is the father of Stu Wilson.

“I would love to play my Dad for a trip to the Frozen Four,” Stu Wilson said. “But . . . we both have difficult opponents to face Saturday, and it will take a lot of work just to reach the regional final.”

Wayne Wilson echoed his son’s sentiments. If the match up does happen, it would be the second time the two have faced each other. Stu Wilson’s Bulldogs beat Wayne Wilson’s Tigers 2-0 on Nov. 29, 2014.

“I really don’t want to talk about it because we have huge obstacles to get through, great opponents without a question,” Wayne Wilson said. “The only thing I would comment on is I got to play him once, and they won 2-0. I would like to exact revenge on that.

“There would be bragging rights for a long, long time.”

Wayne Wilson, 53, is in his 17th season as RIT’s head coach, where he has compiled a 320-194-60 career record. He won an NCAA championship as a player at Bowling Green in 1984. Before becoming RIT’s head coach in 1999, Wilson was an assistant coach at New Hampshire in the 1987-88 season and then at Bowling Green from 1988-99.

Stu Wilson, 24, has 27 goals and 42 assists in 131 career games. He is Yale’s second-leading scorer this season with eight goals and 18 assists in 30 games. He, too, has won an NCAA title, during his freshman year in 2013.

As a kid, Stu Wilson got to be at the arena and watch his Dad either run practices or coach in games. It’s an experience he treasures.

“As a hockey player, I was really lucky that my Dad was a head coach,” Stu Wilson said. “I was able to be around the rink a lot and see how his players at both Bowling Green and RIT approached the game. I think the work ethic of his teams was something that I tried to emulate growing up.”

When his son was playing youth hockey, Wayne Wilson played the role of the cheering, supporting father. He let Stu Wilson’s youth coaches do their job.

“I tried to stay [at a] distance from that,” Wayne Wilson said. “I thought it was better for him to hear from someone else. He was very fortunate to have great coaches all the way up. I had zero problems with anything. I didn’t feel a need to go out there and help these guys out. I truly did enjoy being up in the stands and just watch.”

In that game during the 2014-15 season, RIT kept Stu Wilson off the scoreboard. But it was hard sometimes for Wayne Wilson to concentrate on his team.

“Am I going to get caught watching him instead of watching the game or our team in particular?” Wayne Wilson said. “After the game, it wasn’t cracked up to be what it was. I might have noticed him a couple of times, but it was his number against our guy. Everyone says, ‘Yeah, I would love to coach against my son.’ I really didn’t pay much attention to it. You’re so into your team and what they’re doing that the other team is just a color. You’re not always identifying who that exact player is your team is going against.”

Stu Wilson admits to be nervous about that matchup.

“I think I was more anxious for that game than any other game I’ve played at Yale.” Stu Wilson said. “At the time, I thought it might be the only opportunity I’d have to play against my Dad, so there were definitely some bragging rights on the line. It would obviously be really cool for us to meet in the regional final, so I’m hoping we can both win our first games.”

With the Wilson’s being in the same regional, it makes traveling for family members much easier.

“I’m really excited to be in the same regional as my Dad and RIT,” Stu Wilson said. “I knew there was a possibility that we would both end up in Albany, so I was hoping to see that on the selection show and I’m glad it worked out. I’m sure my Mom is the happiest of all of us because now she won’t have to choose which regional to go to.”

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