For Anthony Calabrese, a senior defenseman on the Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team, the game of hockey has taken him on a lifelong journey, teaching him numerous lessons and creating countless memories along the way. As Calabrese enters his final season as a Cardinal, the journey continues.

It all began for the Bridgeton, New Jersey, native at a local ice rink called Hollydell Ice Arena, where Calabrese played hockey for the first time at the age of 5 and quickly developed a passion for the game.

Throughout his childhood, Calabrese was always playing hockey and improving his skills. After graduating from Gloucester Catholic High School, he made the next step in his hockey career by playing junior hockey for the Philadelphia Revolution before traveling west the following year to play for the Wisconsin Wilderness.

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While in Wisconsin, Calabrese engineered a phenomenal season playing in the Superior International Junior Hockey League. He led all defenseman in scoring, won defensive player of the year and captured a championship with his Wilderness teammates.

Along with the success Calabrese experienced in Wisconsin, he also received a call halfway through the season from PSUC head coach Bob Emery who had watched him play online. The initial phone call resulted in multiple follow-up conversations between the two and eventually led to Calabrese committing to PSUC.

It wasn’t a difficult decision for him.

“Everything just fit,” Calabrese said. “The rink was beautiful, the teachers I talked to were very nice and I felt like I had a good spot here. I loved the facility and the school, and I just couldn’t say no.”

When Calabrese’s freshman season began, he was excited but didn’t have an ideal start to his first year.

While playing against Cortland in November, Calabrese was hit from behind, which resulted in him being rushed to the hospital and being diagnosed with a concussion. The injury frustrated and concerned the defenseman, causing him to fear the unknown.

“I was a little nervous if I was ever going to be able to return to the lineup,” Calabrese said. “I didn’t know when I was going to be able to come back or what I was going to be able to do once I got back.”

Calabrese’s concussion sidelined him for a month and prevented him having the season he wanted to. During the offseason, Calabrese trained extremely hard, wanting to improve and become an everyday player.

His hard work paid off.

In his sophomore and junior seasons, Calabrese became a workhorse for the Cards, playing in all but one game while utilizing a focused and goal-oriented mindset.

“When I go on the ice, I am in my own realm, and I just focus on hockey,” Calabrese said. “If it’s practice, I want to focus on what I want to do better, and if it’s a game, I want to focus on winning that game, and that’s all I have on my mind.”

Calabrese’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates, who appreciate his work ethic.

“He’s a hard-working blue-collar guy,” senior Rich Botting said. “Ultimately, we need to all buy into that, and I think he has since day one here.”
The positivity Calabrese creates also makes him someone who his teammates enjoy playing with and like to be around.

“He brings a lot of energy to what he does, and he carries that onto the ice,” senior Kevin Emmerling said. “He’s a really good player that has meant a lot to this team on the ice, and it’s been a pleasure playing with him for the last four years.”

As his final season concludes, Calabrese wants to absorb every last moment. He plans to continue pursuing a public relations degree and also wants to capture another SUNYAC title like the Cards did a season ago and hopefully secure a national championship as well.

No matter what happens this season, Calabrese will always be thankful to have played for PSUC and knows how important hockey has been to him throughout life.

“Being a Cardinal means a lot,” Calabrese said. “It’s a lot about who I am, and the game of hockey has definitely made me become who I am today.”

Email Joey LaFranca at joseph.lafranca@cardinalpointsonline.com

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