Okotokian Cadet wraps up prolific four years
Hockey: Chris Duszynski completes collegiate career with Norwich
Wednesday, Apr 09, 2014 06:00 am
A former captain of the Okotoks Jr. Oilers is entering the next chapter in his career.
Okotokian Chris Duszynski closed the book on his four years with the Norwich University Cadets when the Division III school was ousted in the quarterfinal stage of the NCAA tournament.
“You play four years for the university and that’s quite a long time and I was there from 20-24 year’s old, I grew a lot and learned to love the place and the people,” Duszynski said. “It’s kind of a sad moment knowing it’s all over. You don’t really realize it right away.
“Looking back everyone was proud the way things went. We were the underdogs the whole year, half our team were freshman and we weren’t expected to do exceptionally well and to win 20 games is a bit of an accomplishment.”
The Cadets accomplished plenty over Duszynski’s four years at the Vermont school, including three consecutive trips to the Final Four at the NCAA tournament.
“My first three years we had really strong teams. I came in the year after we won the championship and we made it back to the final four my first three years,” he said. “Losing in the semifinal was pretty difficult, you never want to make it that far and lose, but it’s a pretty good accomplishment making it there.”
Duszynski, who notched a team leading 18 goals during his senior year, embraced his role as co-captain on the rookie-laden Cadets in 2013-14. Through four seasons the right-handed shooting forward notched 42 goals and 86 points.
“My biggest accomplishment was this past year. The adversity of having our team as freshmen, 14 new guys come in so there was a lot of responsibility among the group of core leaders,” he said. “To step up and lead the way and show the young guys off the ice the responsibility and at the rink the way we compete every night and how much it means to Norwich and the community.”
He learned to thrive under the pressure cooker that is the men’s hockey program at Norwich.
“It’s not exactly your typical university as far the traditional military side of it, two-thirds of the school is Cadets and it’s traditionally strict and there’s a responsibility the team carries there,” said Duszynski, who’s on track to graduate as a health sciences major. “The men’s program is the most esteemed program at the school, we get a lot of attention in the community.
“The support we had was unbelievable. At times you think it would be more fun to go to some school and get the big college experience, but at the end of the day I learned a lot and grew a lot being in that type of environment.”
Three seasons of Junior with his hometown Oilers prepared the 24-year-old, who tallied 51 goals and 132 points as an Oiler from 2008-10, for the on and off ice responsibilities he faced at the college level.
“That started in Okotoks. It’s important to them that you’re more than just a hockey player, that you’re a good person and a leader and you’re getting out in the community and doing the right things,” said Duszynski, who came up through the Okotoks Midget AA Oilers ranks. “That started with me playing minor hockey in Okotoks and with my parents those values were instilled from the start.
“As far as the Oilers, I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the organization and the leadership from the top in preparing us not just to get to college, but once you’re there you’re going to play and you’re going to improve and make a difference.”
In the wake of graduation, he’s earned a jumpstart on life after college hockey after signing on with the Brampton Beast of the Central Hockey League. He hopes it’s the tipping point to a hockey journey across the pond.
“I’d love to get over to play in Europe and see something new for a year or two, that’s my ultimate goal. For life experience, to do some travelling and see something different and then be happy with my career,” he said. “I’m not looking to drag it out for five, six, seven years, but if I can play for another year or two or three and get some good experiences.”
The luxury of taking a shot at the professional ranks is one he’s afforded himself with a degree in his back pocket to fall back on at any time.
“Anyone who goes away and plays for a college there are going to be times when you want to pack it in and go home, but just stick with it because after the four years it’s worth it and it goes by really fast,” he said. “As far as your development there’s no better place than college, the practice time, the dedication, the facilities, you’re not going to get that anywhere else.”
“It was definitely a good route to go.”