As she stands there and tapes her stick in the halls of Buffalo State College, the memories start flooding in for Erin Gehen. The years of milestones and broken records. The years of sports that she’s played. All the friendships she has made along the way.
As her time comes to an end at Buffalo State, Gehen is leaving as one of the most decorated athletes in Western New York. While a lot of people may know about her hockey prowless, Gehen was also a tremendous hockey and lacrosse player at West Seneca West.
In fact, it didn’t matter what sport she played. Gehen happened to be good at it. Some people will even save gifted. She scored a 100 goals during her hockey career at West Seneca West and didn’t slow down at all when she hit the ice running at Buffalo State.
After four years, it’s getting to that time to say goodbye. For years helping Buffalo State women’s hockey get back to the lofty expectations they place on themselves. Four years of friendships and memories.
Four years of lacing skates and taping sticks.
“Looking back on my time at Buffalo State thus far, I am most fond of the progress the women’s hockey program has made. With the right coaching and the right players the program has improves greatly in a short period of time,” stated Gehen. “Buffalo State College and the hockey program here has changed my life in that I have made friendships and connections with people that will last a lifetime. We are a family here and that is the biggest takeaway I will have after my four years.”
No one would have known what kind of hockey player Gehen was going to be when she first laced up those skates at a young age. Being the youngest in the house, Gehen always had a passion for sports – and a passion for hockey.
Sure she was born with a gift, but it was also hard work. Gehen made sure she put in the extra time on the ice to get better and to improve. She never knew that she would have so much individual success throughout her career that she has.
“From an early age I have always loved to play hockey whether it was at home with my family or at the rink. Being the youngest, I always tried to keep up with and beat my older siblings, which built my competitive nature. I was also very lucky to have my father’s guidance and support as a coach from an early age. He taught me the fundamentals that showed me how to be successful on and off the ice. I am lucky enough to play college hockey very close to home. It is amazing to look up every game and see all of my siblings, parents, and grandparents in the stands. My family makes my experience as a hockey player at Buffalo State College that much better because I get to share it with them,” explained Gehen. “I never thought I would have seen as much individual success as I have. Looking back it is very clear that I owe any success I have had this far to my family, teammates and coaching throughout my career.”
Being tough and competitive is something that was good for Gehen growing up. While she scores a lot of goals, Gehen isn’t that big power forward. She sits, or stands, at 5-foot-3 inches tall. She does her dirty work in front of the net.
With Gehen it isn’t so much about the size as it is about positioning. She knows she won’t be able to out muscle some of the bigger defenders in the league. But, she does know if she gets good positioning someone that she can’t be stopped.
“Being one of the smaller girls on the ice, I had to find a niche early on. Luckily for me, my father emphasized the importance of skating from an early age. I was able to develop strong skating capabilities that attributed directly to my speed on the ice. My speed is what I have been able to use to make up for my lack of height,” stated Gehen. “Positioning and systematic play is important in any team sport. Having the right positioning on the ice causes room for turnovers and scoring chances. You can’t win a game without scoring opportunities.”
It also helped her hockey development that she didn’t play hockey all the time. Gehen knew that hockey was going to be her main sport moving forward. She also know by playing other sports she could become a well-rounded athlete and person.
Soccer and lacrosse became those “other” sports. She just happened to be very good at those as well. She could have easily played all three sports in college. Even know Gehen plays any sport she can get her hands, or feet on.
“Off the ice I love to play recreational sports and work out,” she said. “During my summers I participate in soccer, softball, and hockey leagues with my sister. Being able to play these sports with my sister is one of my favorite things. We get to spend a lot of time together and share a lot of laughs.”
If she could go back and play any sport again, however, Gehen would take on the challenge of wrestling. Being the youngest in the house, wrestling would have been an important tool to learn. It could have Gehen an advantage when taking on her siblings in the house
And knowing how good she is at every other sport she takes part in, Gehen probably would have dominated and set records at that as well.
“Growing up I also played soccer and lacrosse through high school. But, if I were able to do it again, I would have loved to try wrestling,” she said with a laugh. “My family is extremely competitive and being able to wrestle would’ve made my life a lot easier.”