Brendan Reich '11 remembers the moment well: it was January 18, 2009, and Bowdoin men's hockey was playing its first game ever in the brand new Sidney J. Watson Arena. The team completed a commanding win against Williams in front of a packed house. The crowd made Reich realize the extent of the support the team had at Bowdoin, a school rich with hockey tradition.
In action against Trinity last Friday, Reich demonstrated his skill as an offensive-minded defenseman, scoring a pair of goals on Bowdoin's first two power plays of the game.
He continued his success against Wesleyan last Saturday, assisting on the game's first goal and then sealing the 5-2 win with an empty-net goal late in the third period. Reich, who hails from Montvale, New Jersey, was named the NESCAC Player of the Week, just a week after Bowdoin goaltender Chris Rossi '10 earned the award.
Daniel Weiniger '13, a fellow New Jersey resident and member of Reich's power-play unit, attributed Reich's success to his Jersey roots, but also mentioned the importance of his teammate's play.
"His two goals leading off the Trinity game were huge," he said. "His play last weekend really showed that he's got the swag-factor."
The Polar Bears (15-5-1) lead the NESCAC and will be looking for a pair of wins this weekend to clinch the top playoff spot. Reich mentioned that the team is currently confident and in good spirits.
"There is a lot of charisma in the locker room right now," he noted.
Weiniger added that, as the DJ for the pre-game pump-up music, Reich adds to the positive atmosphere.
"Brendan provides a strong musical touch inside the locker room and is an overall great teammate," he said.
Reflecting on the season thus far, Reich commented on the team's improvement.
"We had an up and down beginning of the year," he said. "But with some great goaltending from Chris Rossi and great play from special teams, we have really picked it up."
Reich has been one of the major reasons for Bowdoin's recent success. Although a defenseman, Reich has bagged eight goals and seven assists this season. He is tied for a team high six power-play goals.
Head Coach Terry Meagher mentioned that Brendan has improved immensely from his first year, during which he appeared in seven games and was scoreless.
"Brendan has been on an ascending development plane from his first practice," said Meagher. "He is tracking towards becoming one of the best offensive defenders in the history of our program."
Reich stated that he looks up to NHL player Scott Niedermayer—a defenseman who is recognized for his ability to score goals—as one of his hockey role models and wears the number 27 in honor of him.
Reich, however, finds that his inspiration comes less from a professional hockey player than it does from his dad.
Returning home from Bowdoin at the end of last year, Brendan and his parents were walking into a Dunkin Donuts when a pickup truck careened into the building and barreled through the glass windows.
Heading straight for Brendan and his dad, the truck barreled ahead.
Brendan's dad managed to push him out of the truck's path, but the truck hit his own leg. After three reconstructive surgeries, Brendan's father is recovering, but the incident has still left a lasting impression on Brendan.
"My dad is definitely an inspiration for me," he said. "The accident gave me more of a passion to train hard in the preseason and start off in great shape. I'm thankful for the opportunity to play. It could have been me that got hit."
This season, Reich has begun to take full advantage of the skills he possesses, skills that Meagher mentioned as having long been present in the defenseman.
"He has always had the skill and ability to make plays under pressure," said Meagher.
As the Polar Bears wrap up the regular season and head toward the playoffs, Reich's ability to perform in big situations will be further tested. While he is playing hockey better than ever before, Reich remains humble and focused.
He graciously spoke about what it meant to be named NESCAC Player of the Week and the Bowdoin Athlete of the Week.
"Anytime you receive an award like this, it truly is an honor," he said. "Both my teammates and coaches deserve a lot of credit as well, because without them none of this would be possible. This award really means a lot to me, but going forward, the only goal that I'm focused on is winning the NESCAC Championship."