As snow stuck to the ground for the first time on Tuesday, moans and groans about the cold weather to come were audible throughout campus. For some students, however, the cold has a special allure. In fact, even when the sun shines and it’s warm outside, these students choose to spend many hours in the cold. These brave souls are the members of the men’s and women’s club ice hockey teams.
The players are not just brave for facing the cold, however. They practice long hours every week at the ice rink at Genesee Valley Park and compete multiple times a week from early October to the beginning of March. The men’s team practices every night Monday through Thursday, and the women wake in the wee hours of the morning to practice from 7 to 8:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
‘Because we are a club sport rather than a varsity sport, it is a little more laid back,” president of the men’s team and junior Tom Bauer said. ‘But it’s still serious hockey and a high level of hockey.”
President of the women’s team and senior Julie Gordon echoed Bauer’s sentiments.
‘We practice hard and we play hard,” she said. ‘But [we] enjoy it while we are doing it.”
In addition to hard practices and the cold, one challenge the teams must face is funding.
They must pay for the salary of their coaches, who are members of the Rochester community, league dues and expensive equipment. They do receive one perk from UR, however free ice time. Many years ago, GVP’s rink was an open rink. When the city looked to put a roof over the ice, the University came forward to donate the money. As a result, the club hockey teams can practice there for free.
Recently, both teams have had to overcome the problem of a small roster. Right now, the men’s team’s lineup consists of 17 skaters and two goalies, and the women’s team has 18 skaters and two goalies.
There are some differences between the men’s and women’s teams. Most significant are the rules about body checking. Simply put, the women aren’t allowed to do it, and they will receive a penalty if they do. More interestingly, though, the women’s team is far less experienced. While nearly every player on the men’s team participated in either junior or high school hockey, many of the members of the women’s team did not pick up a stick until they came to UR.
‘It was nice to have a school team here that was accepting of girls who hadn’t played before,” Gordon said. ‘So we try to keep that tradition going.”
This does present some difficulties in play, however. Both teams have gone through some rough patches in the past, but, in the end, they play hard and have fun.
‘With the club hockey level, there is a large range of levels that teams play at,” Gordon said. ‘Often our games can be high scoring, but sometimes they can be close and lower scoring. Scoring has often been a problem for us in the past, but we are constantly improving.”
Bauer mentioned that club teams tend to have a stronger focus on offense.
‘The games are exciting and fun to watch because they’re high scoring,” he said.
Both teams participate in club hockey leagues the men in American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I Club, which consists of club teams at schools that have Division I varsity teams, and the women in the Northeast Women’s Collegiate Hockey Association.
The men have home games on Friday and Saturday this week at 7 p.m. Friday against University of Buffalo and Saturday against Syracuse University. The next home game for the women is on Friday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. against William Smith College.
Bauer noted that the games are a great Friday night activity.
‘This is exciting hockey,” he said. ‘Also, there’s a bar there, so you can eat and have a drink while you watch us play.”
Gordon agreed with Bauer.
‘Our games are free and they are a lot of fun to watch,” she said. ‘The location of the rink is right across the bridge, and our games are usually at seven on a Friday or Saturday night. So free, convenient and fun. Perfect for college students!”
Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.