In the minutes before the Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team’s game against SUNY Potsdam Saturday, the team and the community took a moment to honor one of the program’s all-time greats.
PSUC alumnus Doug Kimura, who played for the Cardinals from 1977 to 1981 and captained the team for two years, became the fourth player to see his jersey retired.
Current head coach Bob Emery emphasized Kimura’s importance to building the team in those early years as a varsity program.
“The thing that impressed me most about it Doug is that he’s a great character,” Emery said. “He was responsible for recruiting a lot of those kids when he was a player here. He recruited a lot of the players that came here to get the program off the ground.”
Kimura was the school’s first-ever All-American in any sport, an honor that he earned twice, and was selected to four straight All-SUNYAC teams. Kimura’s 34 goals and 102 assists remain the PSUC record for points by a defenseman.
The Quebec native, who was heavily recruited by coach Lou Frigon, captained the team to its first NCAA Championship Game, when PSUC finished as Division II runner-up to UMass-Lowell.
“We didn’t win my senior year,” Kimura said. “We were runner-up in the NCAA. But that was like a stepping-stone for the program, I think. That’s all you can ask for is to see a program grow and start winning.”
In joining goaltenders Rick Strack and Niklas Sundberg and forward Joey Ferras on the wall of retired jerseys, Kimura appreciated how special this honor is.
“You look on the wall, and they only had three other players,” Kimura said. “I thought it was a great honor for me.”
The jersey retirement came after pressure from two other PSUC alumni, Mike Deloria and Chris Panek.
Deloria, who also graduated in 1981 but has remained in Plattsburgh and seen nearly every home game in the program’s history, said that Kimura was probably the player most deserving of this honor.
“I’ve seen a lot of players come and go,” Deloria said. “A lot of great players, but I think those great players would all tell you that ‘number five’ was the best.”
After Saturday’s game, the current PSUC team joined a couple dozen alumni in honoring Kimura at the Plattsburgh Brewing Co., where former teammates shared memories of Kimura’s on-ice exploits.
“[Kimura was] a rare combination of skill and leadership,” Deloria said. “He was the leader of the team on the ice and off the ice. Everything ran through him. It’s amazing that to this day, 40 years later, he’s still ‘the captain.’”