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Albany High student-athletes break the ice

Photo of three male students in their hockey uniforms standing with their coach at the skating rinkALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 14, 2018) –  In the beginning, everyone was a stranger. Every practice was a road trip.  


And as the cold weeks and months passed, unfortunately almost every game turned into a loss.  


So how did it feel to be the first Albany High School student-athletes to play high school hockey?  


C’mon … it was hockey!  


“It was lot of fun,” said sophomore Chris Gallagher (at left in the photo).  


“It’s been cool,” said junior Patrick Trippany (second from right).  


“We had some good bonding,” said junior Yoni Eligberg (center), the driver for all of those road trips to practice and “home” games at Union College in Schenectady.  


Eilgberg, Trippany and Gallagher played for the Niskayuna-Schenectady-(and now)-Albany Mohawks this winter.  


The other two high schools were well-established partners in the Capital District High School Hockey League. The addition of the Albany High student-athletes for the first time was very welcome, said coach Sean O’Connell (at right in the photo).  


“They are all good athletes and they were ready to go when they came in,” O’Connell said. “They’ve been very positive on the ice and they bonded really well with the other players, and our players have been great with them.”  


Hockey is a small, tight-knit community. So the three Albany High players had a lot of experience with and against many of this year’s opponents during their youth hockey days in Bethlehem, Troy and Clifton Park (Gallagher proudly still wears the hat from his Bethlehem Youth Hockey team’s 2015 state championship).  


But when their peers from other communities got to high school they had school teams to play for; Albany High does not offer hockey among its 14 varsity sports.  


“When I was little I always wanted to play high school hockey, and I was worried we weren’t going to have it,” Trippany said.


The opportunity came together when Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Kathy Ryan began investigating the possibility of Albany High student-athletes joining another area team. She had help from Bethlehem varsity hockey coach Dylan Lappe, who also is an elementary physical education teacher and assistant lacrosse coach in Albany.  


Ryan eventually made the connection with Niskayuna-Schenectady to give Albany High’s student-athletes one more opportunity.  


“It’s all part of our cultural awareness in this district to try and include as many interests and opportunities for our students as we are able to,” Ryan said. “This has been a great addition to our winter athletics offerings.”  


The Mohawks finished the regular season 2-17-1 after a loss Feb. 13 at Bethlehem, one of the top teams in the state. But seven of those losses were by one or two goals, and you’ll get nothing but smiles when talking with the three players about their groundbreaking season.  


For Gallagher, the biggest moment was his second-period goal that tied the Mohawks’ game against Shenendehowa on Dec. 5.  


For Trippany, it was the one shift when he singlehandedly erased a 2-0 deficit against Oswego on Dec. 16.  


For Eligberg, it was his goal in the season-opener Nov. 28 against Bethlehem, a talented team that includes many friends Eligberg played with in youth hockey.  


And for all three, it was memorable just for the chance to play the game they love in high school. They are all looking forward to next season – with an even larger group of Albany High student-athletes joining them, they hope.  


“It didn’t end up the way I wanted it to,” Trippany said, “but it was hockey!”

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to work in partnership with our diverse community to engage every learner in a robust educational program designed to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for success. The district serves nearly 9,700 students in 18 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.

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