CANTON – By most accounts, Joe Marsh coached with plenty of intensity over the years.
The former St. Lawrence University mens hockey coach sure displayed a variety of emotions during a ceremony in his honor on ceremony Friday night at Appleton Arena.
Marsh coached St. Lawrence for 26 years before officially stepping down in the spring because of health issues.
I feel a little bit emotional, Marsh said after the on-ice ceremony, which took part before the start of the second period. Its kind of been like sensory bombardment with so many memories and feelings.
During the ceremony, Marsh pointed to the crowd several times with the Saints faithful breaking into chants of SLU, SLU, SLU.
This is a special place, Marsh said. Its a great place to coach and a great place to live and raise your family. This has always felt like home and with each year my roots here got stronger and deeper.
Marsh called Appleton a classic college hockey arena, where he had coached the Saints since 1985.
During his tenure, Marsh led St. Lawrence to 468 victories, five ECAC titles and eight NCAA Tournament appearances.
You cant go on coaching forever, Marsh said. What makes this special for me is the connectivity, the connection that I still have with so many guys I coached. This makes this more palatable and more acceptable.
Current Saints head coach Greg Carvel, who as a co-interim coach with Mike Hurlbut guided the team through last season, introduced Marsh during the ceremony.
This is an emotional weekend, Carvel said after the game. I dont think anyone ever envisioned that Joe was going to step away from the program. Hes been the face of St. Lawrence hockey for so long, so for me it doesnt feel like hes actually stepped away.
Tonight was special because we had a full house and all the fans turned out to see Joe. He means so much to this program and this community, so it was nice to see.
Marsh was presented with a framed St. Lawrence hockey sweater signed by former Saints players, with current team captain Kyle Flanagan and assistant captains George Hughes and Jordan Dewey skating the gift out to center ice.
Im so appreciative of Greg Carvel and all the people who were involved in putting this on and making this happen, Marsh said. This is a great night for me and my family.
Marsh is the only St. Lawrence hockey coach to guide teams to the playoffs in all 26 years and the seven NCAA appearances are the most for any hockey coach in school history.
As if on cue, the current Saints then went out and scored three unanswered goals in the third period en route to a 4-0 victory over Alabama-Huntsville.
Im real happy with the leadership Greg and Mike have provided this team, Marsh said. I have certainly left this program in great hands. Everything has worked out OK here.
The ceremony was just one of several events honoring Marsh on campus.
A dinner organized by Carvel was held on Thursday night and Friday afternoon featured an alumni game with former Saints players before Marsh attended a pregame pep rally.
You cant get too emotional, Marsh concluded. But this has been a blast, seeing all these players back and seeing how good this St. Lawrence team is. But again, Im so appreciative of everyone that made this a special night.
Marsh recalled the Saints first NCAA Tournament win under his tenure in 1988, a 7-0 triumph over Wisconsin at Appleton Arena.
Ill always remember that game, he said. That was huge for us a program and the fans here were a big part of that win.
Marsh added: St. Lawrence was a great experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.