by Amy Moritz
It's a weekend fille with "senior days" when hockey programs honor their student-athletes playing in their last regular season home game.
But it's also a chance to honor the families who have been integrated into the program.
Take the Sullivans for example.
The family of Canisius senior forward Patrick Sullivan has hosted the Ice Griffs for Thanksgiving (the American version, not the Canadian one) for the past few years.
"It’s awesome," Sullivan said. "My parents love having the guys over, and all the members of the team. Doing that brings I think a little ease of mind to my parents that I'm around such good guys and great character people. Overall it’s just been good for my family and my team coming together as one."
Sullivan is one of seven seniors for Canisius and the only Western New Yorker in the graduating class.
The hometown feel has been appreciated by Sullivan who accidentally spent a year of junior hockey in Alaska.
As for Canisius hockey, the integration of the players' families into the program has been a cornerstone to developing the program and building success.
"It's my ninth year here and eight of the nine years we’ve had at least one local player," Canisius coach Dave Smith said. "That is a piece of it. Families are a piece of not only our program, it’s one of the pillars of our culture. The way that our families interact with each other and interact with the players is really imporatant.
"It is one big environment here and I think that plays into the comfort level on and off the ice I think just like any family there’s a lot of great days and then there’s challenging days, but you get through it together. I think Pat went away for junior hcokey and coming back and having his family integrate into our program has been a special experience for the Sullivans and for the guys who get to be part of it."