Below is my story on the premiere of Jeff Chudzinski's documentary "The Saints are Coming." He will be selling copies eventually and has asked that interested consumers should contact him through Facebook (Click Here) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com).
CANTON — Jeff Chudzinski, a St. Lawrence University sophomore, doesn't like public speaking. Film making, however, is his passion.
In three words — “Here it is” — he introduced his documentary, “The Saints are Coming,” which follows the men's hockey team through the 2010-11 season, to a filled Winston Room in the student center at St. Lawrence University on Tuesday.
Chudzinski was the silent onlooker, capturing through his lens everything from head coach Joe Marsh's heated locker room speeches to hotel pranks. Marsh and associate head coach Bob Prier couldn't make the premiere, but the nearly 200 guests who saw it first unanimously praised him for the accomplishment.
“It was a really cool experience,” St. Lawrence captain Jared Keller said. “No one has done anything close to this for our team. I thought it was awesome.”
Marsh's voice fittingly opens Chudzinski's film, describing Keller's struggle to return after a crippling concussion in the season opener. Keller again is seen near the end in a haunting image, lying on his back on a trainer's table, wincing after enduring a season-ending knee injury.
In the 75 minutes between, he documents in intimate detail what it's like to be a part of St. Lawrence hockey.
“The original message I was trying to convey was that these are regular guys,” Chudzinski said. “They're students who just happen to be Division I athletes. They're not any different than us.”
He plans to submit the film for consideration to the Lake Placid Film Festival and eventually sell DVD copies. For now, it exists as a near-finished work-in-progress.
Roommates and off-ice best friends Robby Moss and Max Mobley perhaps steal the film, first as guides through St. Lawrence's winter break home: the Best Western Inn. Then, they detail and execute an elaborately orchestrated prank called “a leaner.” The stunt involves only some water and a trash bin, but somehow the duo find the logistics challenging and need mutliple attempts before an unsuspecting women's hockey player becomes the victim.
“I didn't realize it was going to turn out as funny,” Moss said of the scene. “I thought it was great.”
Mobley summed the scenes in the hotel as a perfect depiction of what life is like during the month-long break without classes or other students on campus. While they were off conspiring against the women's team, Patrick Raley and Nic Vangog participated in a hockey video game battle that became so riveting it drew a crowd.
“We're a bunch of very close brothers,” Mobley said. “We go through that stuff every day. It's a lot of fun.”
Assistant coach Mike Hurlbut, who played four years under Marsh, made the premiere and enjoyed the inside look at the team. He, too, felt it accurately showed what the team goes through, both good and bad, throughout the long season.
“(Chudzinski) was just like one of the guys,” Hurlbut said. “I know how much these guys are at the rink and Jeff was there quite a bit as well. I think he put things together really well. He should be proud of what he's done.”