The long-ago Hamilton hockey captain was in trouble. Cancer had grabbed him hard the year before and wasn’t letting go. One afternoon, he was asked to watch a Continental game online.
“To my pure surprise, the boys wore my jersey with my name on it in warmups,” he said.
The show of support was arranged by former assistant coach Bennett Hambrook ’17, now director of hockey operations at the University of Nebraska Omaha and a standout player on very strong Continental teams from 2014 to 2017.
“I was moved to tears and made a pledge that when I was better, I would thank the boys personally at a varsity practice,” Lahey said. “Hamilton is a family. It is a special place that never forgets its own. Hamilton hockey is a great example of this. I played for the team 40 years ago, and yet they were there when I needed them. That is a college that truly cares. That is an athletic group led by (athletics director) Jon Hind ’80 and hockey coach Rob Haberbusch, who are just excellent people and leaders.”
Haberbusch returns the compliment: “He’s a once-a-decade personality. He’s in touch with everybody he played with in the ’80s. He is my chief contact with that group, and he’s been generous with his time and money. And he’s been great with our players, teaching them to network, how to apply for jobs, hiring them as interns.”
Two years after that hospital stay, in the first weekend of December 2022, Lahey did get to skate with the team. Then, he and his former Continentals teammate Carl Nasto ’82 presented a check for $230,000 to the men’s and women’s hockey programs. Moments later, he dropped the first puck before Hamilton defeated 11th-ranked Trinity 3-1.
“I was moved to tears and made a pledge that when I was better, I would thank the boys personally at a varsity practice.”
Lahey was a key player in the fund drive, which was fueled by a major donation from Mark Davitt ’79, another former Hamilton hockey star. Mike Seitzinger ’69, Steve Carman ’81, James Pollan ’81, and Ben Madonia ’74 were among others with key roles.
This was all after the monumental battle with throat cancer, which included a trip to the 18th floor palliative care unit at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.
“I didn’t know then,” Lahey said, “but you don’t return from the 18th floor.”
Hamiltonian friends Craig Parles ’83 and Susan Kim ’85 tried to get Lahey to Philadelphia for surgery, but he was too weak to travel. Eventually his oncologist prescribed Niyolumab, a “miracle drug” developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, a company with well-known Hamilton roots.
“It crushed my cancer, and today, after two years of treatment, I am cancer-free, back working out, and was able to skate with the team on December 2,” Lahey said. “Man, that was pure joy.”
Lahey and his wife, Patty, parents of three grown children, two who work in his business and another a Wall Street lawyer, have given to many other entities, recently making a very large gift to the building fund at their church, Holy Family Parish in Toronto. His ability to be a benefactor for Hamilton hockey and other causes is based on great success in the business world.
His career began working for yet another former Continental player, Rick Aubry ’75, at McBee Accounting Systems. Lahey earned an MBA and then was hired by Microsoft to start a financial services team in Toronto. In 2005, he bought a management consulting firm, and now Predictive Success provides predictive analytics software and training to more than a thousand companies across North America with more than $12 million in annual sales.
Lahey’s success as a player had a genetic component. His grandfather, Syd Howe, is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame who spent 17 years in the NHL and once scored six goals in a game. Howe built a backyard rink for Dave and his brother Pat, jump-starting their athletic ambitions. Lahey went on to a good career at Sir Robert Borden High School in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean. He was set to attend Queens University, but Aubry persuaded him to come to Hamilton.
“I was intrigued by the small college size, the ability to learn more about American culture and have an undergraduate experience in America while playing a sport that I loved since my grandfather introduced me to it at age 5,” Lahey said.
He made the most of his time on the Hill. He was a member of several honorary groups, served on the judiciary board, and was team captain his senior year. He recalls his coaches and teammates with great fondness.
Assistant coach John Karin? A strong disciplinarian. “He worked us into shape, especially after frat parties,” Lahey said. “He knew his players well.”
Legendary head coach Greg Batt? The elder statesman of college hockey. “He had the perfect attitude for Hamilton,” Lahey said. “He was a wonderful human being and wanted all his players to develop as people, as leaders of the future. He succeeded. One hundred percent of his players graduated from Hamilton, and many are business leaders, bankers, tech entrepreneurs, doctors, and lawyers across North America.”
Lahey scored 82 points over four seasons on the ice. Great memories include scoring several game-winners and potting two goals in a 3-1 victory over West Point, something Coach Batt deeply appreciated because he beat his good friend, Army coach Jack Riley.
And his teammates? “It was a pleasure to skate with Mike Marta [’84], Tim Whitehead [’85], Carl Nasto, Steve Carman, Dr. Jim Wall [’81], Dr. Mike Denk [’82], and so many other great people,” Lahey said.
The Hamilton experience, fueled by hockey, is something Lahey will value forever. “Hamilton allowed me to become entrepreneurial, to try many subjects, meet people from all over America, and get a world class education,” he said. “It introduced me to the wonderful people of Clinton and New Hartford and a second set of parents, Eddy and Jean Hunt [their son Scott ’83 was his roommate]. It helped me learn how to write efficiently, and pushed me to ‘Know Thyself.’ I met some of my very best friends I know, lifelong friends I call ‘Foxhole Buddies.’”