In the long and storied history of The St. Lawrence’s Men’s Hockey program, there have been countless players hailing from all over the globe. Brothers, twins, cousins: they’ve all worn the Scarlet and Brown with pride. But one special case stands out: that of David Yoshida ‘ 73 and his son, Chris Yoshida ’00.
Their story goes back to the late sixties, when David was introduced to St. Lawrence University by a person that knew several ECAC coaches. For a young man from Ontario, the prospect of moving across the border to America to play hockey – and earn a degree – was very enticing. David committed to St. Lawrence and played four years of hockey, graduating in 1973 with a degree in economics and served as team captain.
For him, the memories off the ice are just as vibrant as those played out on the frozen slab at Appleton Arena. Especially when it comes to the band, Nik and the Nice Guys. “That originated with my roomie. They became kind of ‘the band’ associated with campus where they were playing every party after the hockey games” David remembers. “A lot of these parties never started until after the games because three of the guys in the band were on the hockey team. It was a good way to make sure the hockey players got invited! Obviously, that’s part of the reason why we were all so close. There was nothing more in demand than Nik and the Nice Guys during our era.”
As David grew older and began raising his family, he maintained a strong connection to SLU, one that Chris remembers vividly. It wasn’t uncommon for the family to travel back to Canton in the summertime to see old friends and teammates, which allowed Chris to form bonds with the children of other hockey alums. David also took Chris to see the Skating Saints play road games: “From the time I was probably 3 years old, I grew up at the rinks watching St. Lawrence play” Chris said. “I remember Dad picking me up from school and driving to Lake Placid in ‘88 for the national championship game. It laid the framework and appreciation for the hockey program. I was born to be a St. Lawrence Alum.”
So what had changed from the time David had been on campus? David believes that “over time, the day-to-day commitment to hockey (has become) a lot more serious. There is more emphasis on the academic part of it compared to when I was there. I think, myself included, the majority of the hockey team spent every summer on campus. Not just because we didn’t want to go home, it was because we had to be in summer school. We had an extremely supportive faculty, they were just outstanding. The coaching staff treated us as family. And that’s something I don’t think has ever changed at St. Lawrence.”
SLU’s growing reputation as a scholastic powerhouse ultimately helped make the decision easy for Chris, a standout boarding school player, to enroll. An academic scholarship to St. Lawrence “offered me the chance to still chase the dream of playing Division I hockey. It just made sense” Chris recalls. But things didn’t go exactly as planned. Coach Joe Marsh had to make cuts, and Chris was on the chopping block until the wily Massachusetts native came up with a plan: “It was Joe’s idea to become a manager, which I have to say, at first I thought it was embarrassing,” Chris said about his transition. But whenever the team needed an able body in practice, Chris got the call. “When we dropped people with injuries my senior year, I was the one practicing and filling in the spots. When the team was healthy, I was going back to my managing schedule. It was a bizarre duplicity of reality.”
It was also a great way to stay in shape, just in case something bizarre happened. Like the record-breaking seven period, quadruple overtime 2000 NCAA national semifinal game against Boston University in which SLU came out victorious. Chris lists it as his favorite SLU hockey memory. “It was, at the time, the longest game in NCAA history. I walked up and down the stairs about a thousand times that day because it was 7 period game! It was the first big win we’d had as an institution since probably ’88. We were on our way to the Frozen Four” Chris said, beaming with pride. “Upon reflection, many years after graduation, I wouldn’t have done it any differently. While my playing experience was disappointing, the camaraderie, the blood, sweat and tears that I did expel were worthwhile even though I never played a game in the rink. It was a great experience and while it wasn’t what I expected when I walked on campus, I loved it.”
David Yoshida has enjoyed a long career as a certified public accountant in the greater Boston area, while Chris is currently employed by Deutsche Bank Securities. He credits his post-hockey career to the St. Lawrence alumni network, and specifically Martyn Ball ‘90, who helped him land a job at Goldman Sachs after graduating in 2000.