1983-84 The Final Frontier

As a result of the stellar comeback in the previous campaign, the Roadrunners anticipated a prosperous season, possibly another League championship. The Athletic Department even reinstated Varsity status to the program. However, lack of experience, stronger opponents, and the absence of Dave Margolin’s prolific scoring proved too much for the Roadrunners to overcome, even in the MCHC. As the season began, there was little indication that it would be the final curtain for the ice hockey program. The end of an era was a mere twenty-four games away.

The League had a twenty-two team membership. Ramapo was in the West Division along with CCM, OCC, WPC, Fordham, NJIT, Kean, FDU, and Marist.

The disastrous season opener against Lehigh University was an omen of dreadful things to come. Lehigh University annihilated Ramapo 14-3. With the team still rebuilding and gaining confidence, only League competition should have been scheduled. Coach Chill has commented on more than one occasion, “The move to the ECAC was a big mistake. If we had stayed where we belonged, we would have maintained our winning reputation. I’d love to have that decision back again.”
The team bounced back in its next game to defeat Fordham 6-4 in its first MCHC game of the season. However, like the 1980-81 season, the last ECAC campaign, the season was filled with few victories and many long losing streaks. After losing to CCM 4-3 and Drexel 5-1, the Roadrunners defeated Marist 9-6 to bring their record to 2-3.

The Roadrunners lost to OCC 5-3, then to WPC 6-5. This was the first time Ramapo ever lost a hockey game to a fellow New Jersey state college. They were previously 12-0-1 against other N.J. State colleges, outscoring their sister schools 114-33 (8.8-2.5). Ramapo next traveled west to meet the Nittnay Lions of Penn State University in University Park, Pennsylvania and the Quakers of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The “lost weekend” as it became known, recorded the worst two consecutive games in the team’s proud history. On Saturday, the Nittnay Lions dismantled Ramapo 15-0, outshooting the Roadrunners 61-12. On Sunday, the Quakers demolished the Roadrunners 10-1, outshooting Ramapo 52-22.

Still the team would not quit. After the four-game losing streak, the Roadrunners played their best hockey of the season, tying Nassau Community College 4-4, and defeating New York Maritime College 10-4, then shutting out the New Jersey Institute of Technology 4-0. But the team couldn’t stay focused. They lost ten of their final twelve games. The first of two four-game losing streaks began with a 7-2 loss to Stony Brook. OCC avenged the 15-3 routing by Ramapo the previous year by annihilating the Roadrunners 12-1. Southern Connecticut next disposed of the Roadrunners 8-2. The losing streak reached four with a 5-4 loss to Kean, and then ended with a 6-3 win over Rutgers.

A new losing streak started at the hands of WPC. The Pioneers beat the Roadrunners 9-2 at the Meadowlands Arena preceding the NHL New Jersey Devils-Washington Capitals game. The significance of the next loss to Kean 9-7 was that Ramapo was swept in all four games with New Jersey state college sister schools. After a typically close-checking game with FDU, which the Knights won 5-4, the Roadrunners had to face Penn for the second time that season. The Quakers fired sixty-eight shots on the Ramapo goal en route to a 14-2 trouncing of the hapless Roadrunners.

The 7-6 win over Marist College on February 26, 1984 proved to be the final victory in the team’s storied history. Their final game was a fitting 8-0 whitewashing at the hands of County College of Morris on March 1, 1984.

The once powerful Roadrunners missed making the MCHC playoffs for the first time in the team’s history. They could manage only six wins against seventeen losses and a tie. They finished seventh in the nine team division, twenty-three points behind division winning Wagner (17-1-0).

Forward Ken Manna, the team’s leading scorer, was selected to the MCHC Second All-Star Team for the second consecutive year. At the beginning of the season, Head Coach Art Chill confided in Assistant Coach Brian Gallagher that this would be his last season. To prevent negative repercussions on the future of the team, the decision was not announced. Then, with two games remaining on the schedule, Head Coach Art Chill officially submitted his resignation to the Athletic Department on March 28, 1984, effective at the end of the season. Chill had been with the program from its inception in 1972, first as goalie, then Assistant Coach for one year, and finally Head Coach for eight years.

When the season came to a close, the administration announced that the program was once again being disbanded for budgetary reasons. This time the blow would be fatal. The once proud Roadrunners ice hockey program, that brought joy and excitement to thousands of fans for eleven seasons, was coming to an end. The sports program that posted the first winning season in the history of the College and that brought Ramapo its first national publicity, would be no more.