Nichols to Induct 4 Athletes, 2008-09 Men’s Hockey Team to Hall of Fame
Wednesday, August 09, 2017
The ceremony will take place on Saturday, September 30 at 10:30 a.m. in Daniels Auditorium.
The inductees include Jason Conquest ’02, Stacey Hejwosz ’07, Bill LaPlante ’90, and Cole Ruwe ’09.
Additionally, the 2008-09 men’s ice hockey program will enter the Hall of Honor.
Conquest was a two-year captain of the Nichols College football team (2000-01) and currently ranks 7th in career tackles for loss with 31.5. He recorded a single-season record 19 tackles for loss in 1999 – including a career-high 11 sacks – and was named to the Worcester Area First Team and a New England Football Conference (NEFC) Honorable Mention. The Bison finished the 1999 campaign 14th nationally in total defense, and Conquest received ECAC weekly honors twice that season.
The Bison’s four-year record with Conquest on the defensive line was 24-15.
“Jason was a top recruit coming out of high school and did not disappoint. He’s one of the best defensive lineman to play at Nichols College. He played defensive end and defensive tackle. He was also a two-time captain, which speaks volumes of what his teammates thought of him on and off the field. Jason was not only a great football and track star, but a top-notch person,” said former Nichols head coach Bill Carven.
Conquest owns seven career fumble recoveries, which ranks him No. 1 all-time at NC. He recovered three in both 1999 and 2001 and closed his career with 163 tackles and 10 passes defended.
Hejwosz is the women’s basketball program’s all-time leader in three-pointers (204) – including a single-season record 60 as a senior in 2006-07 – and ranks 7th all-time in scoring with 1,282 points. She also ranks in the top five in Nichols history in several other categories, including games played (No. 3, 107), free throw pct. (No. 3, .798) and steals (No. 4, 219).
Hejwosz shared team MVP honors as a freshman and sophomore, however, the Bison struggled, posting a combined record of 19-30 during that span. Hejwosz averaged double figures in each of her first two seasons in Dudley, knocking down a total of 91 three-pointers.
Things turned for Hejwosz and the Bison in years three and four, as the team went 37-19 and advanced to the ECAC Northeast Tournament in 2006-07. Hejwosz shot a career-high 44 percent as a junior, pulled down a career-best 3.9 rebounds/game, and recorded a career-high 70 steals. As a senior, she was named the college’s Outstanding Senior Female Athlete after averaging a career-high 12.7 ppg. She finished her career No. 6 in career field goals with 468.
“Stacey was one of my favorite backcourt mates to play alongside. I am so happy that she is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. She is deserving of this honor and earned it with all the hard work she put into being a Bison. She was instrumental in the turnaround of the Nichols women’s basketball program with her drive to succeed, leadership on and off the court, and ability to not only shoot the three, but score easy baskets in transition and clean up on the offensive end. Stacey represents what you can achieve with hard work, determination, and effort,” said former teammate and current Nichols head coach MaryLynn Skarzenski.
LaPlante currently ranks 9th all-time in scoring in men’s basketball program history with 1,385 points (14.9 ppg). He is also No. 4 in free throws (338), No. 5 in rebounds (702), and No. 9 in field goals (523).
LaPlante finished second on the Bison in scoring in each of his final three seasons in Dudley, posting a career-best 19 points per game as a senior. He averaged 8.9 rebounds/game over his final two seasons and finished his career averaging 7.5 rebounds per game.
He still holds the program record for free throw attempts in a game with 22 against Wentworth on December 11, 1987. He earned a share of team MVP honors as a senior and twice received the William F. Heller Award for outstanding achievement in men’s basketball (1988-89, 1989-90).
“As an assistant coach at Nichols, I had the opportunity to coach Bill in his final season ‘On the Hill.’ In his senior season and on his third coach in four years, Bill had every reason to feel as if his college career had not turned out as planned. Each and every day, though losses continued to pile up, Bill showed leadership by continuing to motivate his teammates. He tried to make himself and his team accountable in every way and, in the process, taught them the meaning of hard work and dedication. These traits, uncommon in a 21-year old player, showed the true spirit of college athletics. Leadership, dedication, and a commitment to others clearly defines Bill as the person he was, and no doubt as the man he has become. It’s an honor to have Bill LaPlante join the Nichols College Hall of Fame,” said Nichols Hall of Famer and LaPlante’s former coach, Rich Lengieza
Ruwe was a four-year member of the men’s ice hockey program who ranks first all-time in assists (77) and points (97) by a defenseman, and fourth in goals (20). Additionally, he ranks fourth all-time in both penalties (82) and penalty minutes (196).
Ruwe started his career scoring 23 points (1-22-23) in 29 games as a freshman; his 22 assists was second on the Bison and sixth in the ECAC Northeast. The Bison finished the season 18-7-2 and advanced to the conference semifinals. The following year, Ruwe notched 19 points (5-14-19) in 26 games.
As a junior, Ruwe collected 25 points (9-16-25) to lead all ECAC Northeast defensemen, and his 0.89 points/game was 20th in the nation amongst defensemen. The Bison reached the 20-win mark and advanced to the ECAC Northeast Championship game for the first time in program history during Ruwe’s junior year, which ended with him receiving the college’s Outstanding Junior Male Athlete of the Year award.
Ruwe racked up a career-high 30 points as a senior (5-25-30) – good for ninth in the nation amongst defensemen. An ECAC Northeast First Team pick as well as a New England Hockey Writers All-Star, Ruwe was also an ECAC Northeast All-Academic Team pick and earned conference Player of the Week honors on November 12, 2008. The Bison won a program-record 25 games during his senior campaign as well as the program’s first ECAC Northeast Conference Championship, resulting in their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
“Cole was the heart and soul of our team over a four-year period in which we averaged 19 wins a season and captured our first conference championship. Cole was a great leader and our captain for three seasons. He truly led by example with his passion, determination, and toughness. He played in every situation for us and epitomized the consummate team player. He was an exceptional student-athlete,” said former Nichols head coach Lou Izzi.
2008-09 Men’s Ice Hockey
Nichols cruised past Westfield State 8-1 in the ECAC Quarterfinal round, then doubled-up Fitchburg State 4-2 in the Semifinals. In the championship game against Wentworth, the Bison trailed 2-1 in the second period before goals from Zeke Costello and Ryan Gervais gave the Bison a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes of play. Matt Roberts added what proved to be the game-winner midway through the third, and Jacob Rinn turned aside 26 shots to send NC to the NCAA Tournament.
“The 2008-09 team was one of the best teams, top to bottom, that I have ever been a part of. We came so close the season before and I believe the loss set a fire in all the returners to make sure we had a different outcome the next season. That win and those guys helped propel the hockey program to where it is today,” said Ruwe.
Five Bison garnered all-conference honors while Izzi was named Coach of the Year. The Bison reached 13th in the USCHO.com Division III Poll that season.
Gervais led the Bison with 38 points in 29 games (13-25-38) while Will Munson potted a team-leading 16 goals.
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