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Helping Others Through Hockey: Geisel and UVM Play for the Specimen Cup

Two-thirds of the way into Sunday’s annual Specimen Cup hockey game between the Geisel School of Medicine and the University of Vermont (UVM) College of Medicine, it looked like it might be Geisel’s year.

“We’re really holding our own and competing well,” said Shawn O’Leary, director of multicultural affairs in Geisel’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, a former player who along with some faculty and student “coaches” spent the game on the bench to support the team, while an enthusiastic group of fans cheered the players on in the stands behind them in Dartmouth’s Thompson Arena.

“UVM’s had good players for a number of years now, so we’re basically trying to break their streak and bring the cup home,” said Geoff Noble, a third-year medical student at Geisel and a Specimen Cup veteran.

With spirited, cohesive play and frequent, well-timed line changes, the Geisel team had taken a 2-1 lead after the first period and had battled to a 3-3 tie after the second. But UVM went on to score several more times in the final period, winning 7-4.

“It was a nice showing; we had 16 skaters today, and honestly, that’s the best part of this, the fact that so many people wanted to participate,” said first-year medical student Andrew Cox, who along with classmates Courtney Hanlon and Hannah Systrom, brought the experience of having played varsity hockey in college to the team.

“I thought the game was really fun,” said Hanlon. “It was a great event to rally the students and a good reason to all get together.”

This was the ninth time the two medical schools have met in friendly competition to honor Bruce Fonda, a beloved anatomy instructor at UVM for 25 years who started the first intramural hockey team at the school, and who died of brain cancer in 2005. Donations from the game will go to the Visiting Nurses Association Respite House and Hospice programs.

“I’m really happy with our effort, despite the outcome, and it was great to see so many people come out and lend their support,” said Systrom, whose dad (a Dartmouth Medical School alumnus) and brother both played in the game. “It was totally a team game. People were fired up. We held practices this year for the first time ever, we had a team dinner, and we got jerseys for everyone. It’s been a lot a fun, and it’s something that we can definitely build on for next year.”

As a social chair on student government at Geisel, second year medical student Alex Orfanos was doubly pleased to be involved in the event. “I’m a hockey enthusiast, so I was very excited to play in the game,” he said. “And as someone who has a formal role in planning student events, my job has been made so rewarding and easy by people like Hannah and Andrew, who’ve taken on leadership roles and run with them.”

“It’s been a great opportunity for all four classes to interact, and for faculty to get involved and support the team,” he added. “And it’s just one more example of how community oriented we are here at Geisel.”