February 7, 2008

M. Icers’ Fontas at Center of Things

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For most members of the men’s hockey team, the contest against UMass-Lowell on Dec. 28 was a normal non-conference matchup. But for one member of the squad, the game meant a lot more. Senior Chris Fontas played two years for the Riverhawks before transferring to Cornell, and facing his old teammates was a difficult experience — especially because the Red lost, 3-2.
“I really wish we won,” Fontas said. “It was very emotional because … even when you are at a school and you get to know the coaches, you spend so much time at the rink when you are a Division I athlete. You really build bonds. It was very emotional and unfortunately we didn’t win, but it was a good experience.”
While Fontas has really come into his own this year for Cornell, he was not even recruited by the Red when he was making his initial decision about where to play college hockey. The Nashua, N.H., native decided early on that he wanted to play for UMass-Lowell, where he eventually played two years, recording three goals and six assists in 68 total games.
Despite playing those two years for the Riverhawks, Fontas needed a change. The senior put a lot of stock in education, and he wanted to play for a school with a better academic reputation. So Fontas informed his coach of his decision and began to look for other schools.[img_assist|nid=27450|title=Check this|desc=Senior Chris Fontas (19) has become an integral part of the men’s hockey team after transfering from UMass-Lowell two years ago.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“At first it was just academics,” Fontas said. “I pretty much always wanted to go to an Ivy League school. I kind of decided where I was going to go to school really early, just a year of prep school and I made my decision. But after that, it was just the campus. And after I came here, I knew I wanted to come here.”
That turned out to be good news for the Cornell coaching staff. Even though Dartmouth and Yale recruited Fontas when he was in prep school before he decided on UMass-Lowell, he still wanted to play for the Red.
“You notify your coach that you want to transfer,” Fontas said. “You have to get a release that you fax to all the schools that you are interested in. What I did was send out an information packet about myself, my academic records, things like that, so they would know if I could even get into the school or not. And then, in this case, I contacted the coaches a lot until they had me down.”
After officially transferring to Cornell, Fontas had to sit out the 2005-06 season in accordance with NCAA rules. Last year, his first year playing for the Red, he took the ice in only 11 games, without recording a point. Furthermore, he was not always able to play center, his natural position.
This year, though, Fontas has played center all year and has seen action in 17 contests. In addition, he has played in integral role on Cornell’s checking line and penalty kill. The senior was injured in last Friday night’s win over Colgate, and the team eagerly waits his return.
“I think each one of our linemates [on the checking line] embrace their role,” Fontas said. “We know what we have to do. We have our expectations going into the game, and that’s how we prepare. We get the scouting report on the other team’s top line, and we know that’s what we have to do to win, shut down the other team’s top line.”
Fontas has scored a goal and recorded two assists so far this year. Fittingly, his first assist of the season was against the team where it all began — UMass-Lowell.