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Club Hockey Serves the Students

by Navindra Persaud

Blue Devil pride at Central Connecticut State University is always well represented by its athletic department and the various teams that compete.

However, RECentral, the department which promotes recreational activities and fitness, has also provided students who want to compete at a collegiate level with their Club Sports program, which features a more diverse range of sports for students to choose from.

Rather than competing within the university like the intramural program, these club sports teams are able to compete on an intercollegiate level, to give the players a chance to showcase their ability in sports that don’t receive funding through the athletic department; sports such as CCSU’s ice hockey club team.

“CCSU hockey has cemented itself as a premier American Collegiate Hockey Association hockey club for over 30 years,” said ice hockey club president Evan Mink by email. “It was founded like any other club: by a group of students with a common interest.”

The American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) is the governing body within which the ice hockey club team competes. The ACHA is broken up into four geographic regions, each of which is competing for bids to the regional tournament and, ultimately, the national championship.

The ice hockey club team competes in the ACHA Division II Super East conference, consisting of other colleges and universities from around the Northeast.

Conference opponents such as Marist College, Siena College, William Paterson University, Montclair State University and New York University come from the New York/New Jersey area. The team also competes in-conference against other New England schools represented by the University of New Hampshire and Western Connecticut State University.

Mink stated that CCSU often competes in out-of-conference games as well and has developed recent rivalries against both UConn and the University of New Haven and even competed against Trinity College’s NCAA Division III men’s hockey team last year.

The team has seen success in recent years. The Blue Devils made it to the ACHA Division II national championship game in 2009-10 where they fell to then two-time defending champions Davenport.

The team was also the 2011 Governors’ Cup Champions, defeating defending champion UConn. The Governor’s Cup is a yearly two-day tournament featuring club hockey teams from four Connecticut schools

Within the ACHA, teams are ranked by committees comprised of coaches, with the various schools ranked according to wins and losses along with strength of schedule and other factors similar to the NCAA standards and regulations of competition.

The team generally has two games per week with the majority of them being on Friday or Saturday nights. Mink added that this allows the players ample time for education and team obligations, similar to the student-athletes competing on standard collegiate athletic teams like football and basketball.

“We will also practice two to three times per week,” added Mink, “with off-ice physical training mixed in occasionally as our coaching staff sees fit.”

The team is currently coached by second-year man Ben Adams, who has been part of the coaching team for the last four seasons. Adams is also the head coach of Kingswood-Oxford Prep School in west Hartford.

The ice hockey club has built a respectable name in the state of Connecticut, which has created a buzz for the team and the school itself. The club hopes to promote the game of college hockey in the central Connecticut region as well as promoting the CCSU Blue Devils.

“I’d say our club differs from other clubs simply due to the high level at which we compete and the level of exposure the club brings to the university,” said Mink, “We’re able to compete against other universities in an effort to represent Central Connecticut State University across the Northeast and beyond.”

Unlike most other club sports, ice hockey requires participating players to pay a yearly fee of $1,700 to participate. The fee covers costs that include all aspects of a college hockey season—from ice time at Newington Arena (where the team hosts home games) for games and practices to travel expenses to equipment such as uniforms and team warm-up suits.

According to Mink, the club is always open to new members as it looks to promote both the sport of hockey as well as Central Connecticut. The club team allows Central to have a presence in a sport played widely around the Northeast.

“Hockey is important because it promotes physical activity, competition, teamwork, resilience, and a lot of hard work,” said Mink. “With no team competing at the NCAA level for CCSU, this club is all that the university has in the very crucial New England college hockey market. The club represents everything that is the spirit of the Blue Devils and CCSU: hard work, sportsmanship, and learning. We love representing CCSU.”

The team’s current overall record is 11-12-3, with their next home game scheduled for Feb. 7 at 9 p.m. against Bryant University. The ice hockey team is only one of the over 20 club sports that CCSU has to offer and serves as another outlet for talented athletes to get involved, not only with sports but to become closer to the CCSU community as well.