By: Pat McAdams – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton Ice Hockey Club fills a void offering a sport that lacks a varsity team on UD’s campus. The team’s passion for hockey and experience with the game from a young age create a unique atmosphere within the program.
Much like the varsity sports at UD, the Ice Hockey Club spends hours upon hours training, traveling and building themselves as a unit on and off the ice. Junior defenseman Scott McAliney, junior forward Hunt Lucas, the team’s captain, senior forward Tyler Preston, assistant captain, senior forward Harry Landoff and senior defenseman Mike Shimizu embody the idea that sports bring people together because most of them live together when they’re not leading the team.
The Flyers started their 2014-2015 campaign in American Collegiate Hockey Association Men’s Division II with two straight wins against Eastern Kentucky University, followed by three straight losses.
This weekend the team traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and returned to the win column with three wins against West Virginia University, the University of Pittsburgh and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The Flyers outscored their opponents 26-6 on the weekend and now sit with a record of 5-3.
McAliney said he was disappointed in the start, but gave credit to Southern Illinois, Rowan, and Lindenwood, who the Flyers lost to as part of the team’s three-game losing streak.
Next, the Flyers will take on the Cincinnati Bearcats 3 p.m. Saturday at the Kettering Ice Arena, about 10 to 15 minutes off campus. The team will offer free shuttle services for students from UD at 2:15 and 2:45 p.m., where they will be taken to the arena. Admission to the game is two dollars.
The team encouraged any hockey fans on campus to use the shuttle service and check out the team’s on-the-ice product.
The club hockey team consists of a group of men who put in countless hours of work throughout the year, and the group team leaders want campus to know that not only do they exist on campus, but that they thrive.
“It’s a lot more competitive than people think,” Shimizu said, in reference to talent level in the Ice Hockey Club. The club can be more selective because the school doesn’t have a varsity hockey team that supersedes them as the authority for hockey talent on campus.
Shimizu said that about 40 people tried out for this year’s team. The team took the top 29 for the final roster and practice squad.
The group said that quality potential new members come out every year. Most of the team started playing hockey by the age of four or five, according to the group captains and team leaders.
“I feel like club hockey is one of the more rigorous club sports,” McAliney said.
Part of the reason the club is so demanding is because of the sport it’s centered around. The group consensus was that hockey isn’t a sport someone can just go out and play. It takes years of practice, focus and patience. A BleacherReport article ranked ice hockey fifth amongst the top 10 toughest sports in the world.
The team practices on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:40 to 11 p.m., with games on most Friday and Saturday nights. The hours may not seem as grueling as varsity sports, but the Ice Hockey Club operates on a budget. Assistant captain Harry Londoff estimated the ice time costs for the club at $27,000. The team pays for ice time and referees through club dues, school contributions and profits from games, including ticket sales.
So what drives the club to play such a demanding club sport? The response from Preston, the team’s captain and leading point scorer, only seems fitting:
“The love of the game.”