Randy Moller
Marist celebrates an OT winner against Montclair St. in their season opener (10/23/16).

The Marist Hockey Goal Call Charity, Year 2

Last year, I came up with an idea for a goal-call-based charity at my school, Marist College, inspired by Florida Panthers’ announcer Randy Moller.

Well…it’s back.

And it’s still ridiculous.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, I did a piece on this site last year as well, which you can find here.

To summarize: I call my school’s hockey games on the radio with a couple of friends. Much like Randy Moller did in his play-by-play days, we shout pop culture references and quotes after we score. We take suggestions on what to shout on Twitter (@RantSessionsMAR), Facebook and such, and for every suggestion of a reference to use, we forward a dollar to Hodgkin’s lymphoma research.

Randy Moller
Cap’n Kinger.

We do so in honor of our team’s captain, Austin King. Kinger was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma two years ago, causing him to miss the season. After a hard battle, he managed to not only beat the disease, but return to the team and develop into one of their best players and leaders.

His physical transformation has been remarkable. In an interview he did with one of the members of our radio crew Matt McNamara, King admitted that it took him several months to feel like himself. He was weak from chemotherapy and needed to build up his strength. But two years later, he has become one of the toughest guys on the squad. It takes a lot to knock him off the puck. He is a tenacious forechecker, a hard hitter and currently, one of the hottest scorers on the roster.

In a limited time-frame last season, we managed to raise $150 thanks to 150 suggestions from 25 different people.

This season, we have raised $92 on 92 suggestions from 32 different people. That’s over just one semester, with nine more games still to go. We are on pace to exceed last year’s total, and we have already gotten more people involved this year than last.

The results have been hilarious.

I’ve said this before, but I will reiterate: this is a very silly idea. When I explain to people what it is we do, I get a lot of sideways glances. But when people hear our videos, they really seem to like it. Randy Moller was extremely popular around the league, and it’s easy to see why. It’s fun, it gets the audience involved in the broadcast and who wouldn’t love someone swallowing their pride to shout “do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight” on a hot mic?

Somehow, someway, we got the attention the man himself, Randy Moller. He is a class act all around and has been far more supportive of our efforts than he has had to be.

Moller is one of the game’s best, so his backing means the world. His on-ice interview with Jagr after passing Messier on the scoring list? Priceless.

Why do this particular idea, you might ask? We do this to get experience broadcasting hockey games, yes. My partners, Matt McNamara and Rob DeLuca, are both seniors majoring in sports communication like myself. But we are not simply doing this to build a reel.

We do this to raise money for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Our donations are a small drop in the bucket, but they count for something.

We do this so that parents can hear a broadcast of their kid. The odds are that Marist is not serving as the gateway to the NHL. But for their four years of school, these guys should feel like college athletes. Their parents should be able to see and hear them play. We started airing our games in real time on Facebook Live, and we’ve heard feedback from parents and families watching from miles away. That means the world to us.

Randy Moller
The Red Foxes’ starting lineup.

We do this for the boys on the team. They play off-campus for a club sport. The school does not exactly put their weight behind promoting or covering the team, as to be expected for a club sport. Shirts with their sport on it are not sold in the bookstore like they are for basketball, football or even rugby (yes, rugby). Before we came along, going on-location to the local rink to broadcast games, either live or on delay, was not even a consideration for the radio or television clubs.

This team deserves recognition. Not because they are the best team in the world or anything, but man, are they likable.

They skate with ferocity and are unafraid to stick up for teammates. They are a fast team with a young core. None of the defensemen are seniors, and they are already talented puck-movers. For the second season in a row, the leading goal scorer is a freshman. It is so easy to get behind these guys for being what they are- scrappy, energetic and confident.

Marist’s goaltending is superb. Starter and co-captain Justin Larkin’s save percentage on breakaways has to be incredibly high, as his flexibility allows him to cover the entire netmouth with ease.

“Scoring on a deke on Justin is almost impossible,” teammate and defenseman Vinny Masters told us.

In a game against one of the best teams in the region William Patterson, Larkin stopped 57 of 60 shots in a narrow 3-2 loss. Despite it being a losing effort, it was a crowning achievement for the senior, very nearly outdueling currently the #1 ranked goaltender in ACHA D2, Jordan Hulahan. His composure, lateral movement and rebound control make him a very tough goalie to solve.

Randy Moller
“Imagine if I warmed up with a split? My career would be over.” -Max Henry on teammate Justin Larkin.

Technically the second-stringer given the number of starts, Matt Atwell has been equally hard to beat. Atwell has squared off against teams like Lehigh (last year’s national runner-up) and Boston College (Northeast region’s second-winningest team) and has emerged with a .932 save percentage in six games. Technically, that gives him the seventh-best save percentage in ACHA D2.

Even third-stringer Ty Crump made some huge saves in his lone start this season, a 3-2 win over Rider. All three goalies are seniors, and I contest they could all be starters anywhere else in the division. To have them all on one roster is pretty impressive.

These names probably mean nothing to you, the average reader outside of the Marist community. But they mean the world to us. This is our team. Coming from a school where athletic support from a student perspective is not exactly the biggest deal, it’s refreshing to have a team so easy to root for and so clearly passionate about what they do. And we want so badly for people to share what we feel every time we walk into the rink.

We love when one of our goaltenders stands on their head because they can steal a game against anyone (I’m quite proud of my catchphrase “Larceny by Larkin!” Catchy, eh?). We get excited anytime we see the electric combination of Austin King and Justin Genga start up the ice on a 2-on-1. We know the little ins, outs and tendencies of every player and following them on a year-round basis makes us feel like we’re a part of something.

And this charity has helped us get closer to them and build an audience on their behalf. People want to participate. They want to follow their progress. And to be frank, it’s a radio broadcast of a club hockey team. It would be wrong to take it too seriously.

The Marist Hockey Moller Goal Calls for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma costs nothing but time. All donations off suggestions come out of our pockets (mine, Matt’s and Rob’s). Plus, all suggestions are considered a donation. There is no such thing as a bad suggestion.

Trust me. I’ve had to scream “My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun!” in a crowded arena. We’ll take anything.

So in the spirit of holiday giving, I implore you to tweet at and follow @RantSessionsMAR, the name of our show on WMAR Marist Radio. Check out our goal calls on YouTube. We also have a couple of interviews with some of the players that are hilarious. Like “The Rant Sessions” on Facebook to get updates on our live broadcasts.

This is one of the easiest means of supporting a charity as can be. It’s also one of the most fun.

Many thanks to:
-My broadcast partners Matt McNamara and Rob DeLuca, for giving time, energy and your best effort. Also thanks to Jake Dziubla, special guest color man.
-Head coach Mike Beck and team managers Madison, Molly and Eric for your support and allowed access.
-Team captains Austin King and Justin Larkin.
-Players Nick Rudzewick, Max “Ocho” Henry, Lucas Milbank, Vinny Masters and Andy Vovk for joining us on “The Rant Sessions” and providing some of the best interviews ever.
-The 32 people that have sent in suggestions, and everyone who has tuned into a broadcast or a show. You have made our jobs fun.

To make a donation, go to Lymphoma.org. To make a suggestion, tweet @RantSessionsMAR, or comment on Facebook or Youtube.

About Casey Bryant

Casey has written for numerous sporting news sites including TRLHockey and Hudson Valley Sports Report. He also co-hosted Sports Palooza Radio's podcast "Drop the Damn Puck" with EJ "The Rainmaker" Garr. Steve Valiquette once held a bathroom door for him.

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