The Equipment Office: Univ. of Maine Hockey’s Kevin Ritz

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U Maine Hockey Equipment Manager

What’s your background as a player and equipment manager?¬†What made you decide to be a equipment manager?

My background actually starts as a fan. I have never played the game in any organized form and can hardly skate myself, but I have always been a fan of the game. I grew up going to the Albany River Rats games as a kid and when I was looking at where to go to school I knew I wanted to go somewhere with a D1 hockey program so that on weekends I would have some entertainment. I ended up coming to Maine as an undergrad for a few reasons but the atmosphere at the Alfond and the allure of the team helped push me to Orono.

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Don’t Call It A Comeback

I have this distinct memory of youth hockey. I must have been 11 or 12 years old, so this was pee-wee level and I was playing for a select-travel team out of Central Massachusetts. It was a Sunday afternoon and the year was…….well, nevermind. Let’s just say it started with a 19, ok?

I can’t remember who we were playing, but I do remember lining up to take a face-off about halfway through the game and looking up at the clock. We were down 7-1. Now, I don’t believe myself to be a cocky person in general, but I knew deep down that we may have deserved to be losing the game, but we didn’t deserve to be losing by that margin.

I went in to get ready to take the draw and a few seconds later the referee came to the face-off circle. I looked up at him and he looked at me, likely feeling sorry for what seemed like a game that was going nowhere. I decided to make my statement right there, so I did.

“We’re going to win this game.” I said. That was it.

The referee looked at me and laughed a little bit. It’s likely he had seen it all already and was just trying to get through another day with the whistle at the rink.

“I’m serious,” I said, “we’re going to win.” He dropped the puck.

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Not actual picture of me telling the ref. Sadly.

I don’t remember much about the last half of the game, but I do remember lining up towards the end of the game after we had scored to make it 9-8 in our favor. The referee looked at me again, this time in slight disbelief and said “you called it, kid. I never thought that would happen.”

I don’t even remember how many I got or how it happened. But I remember we won 9-8 and the elation of winning a game like that, of working together as a team to overcome what seemed like a mountain-and-a-half to climb. I’m sure we had other comebacks in those years, but this is one I will never forget.

That is one of the beauties of hockey or any team sport, for that matter. For every dumb locker prank, funny joke or horrendous day at the rink, there’s ten more moments that teach you about character, teamwork and the rewards of working hard.

You don’t get that same feeling in men’s league, but it lingers there sometimes. It definitely carried with me through college and on through my professional life. You can rarely do it alone. We overcome all kinds of obstacles working here (or anywhere) and the same themes repeat themselves over and over again – it’s takes a team.

Hey, we’d love to hear stories about YOUR biggest comeback! Leave your story in our comments section!

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OK, here we are before every day starts at the office. Or not.


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