By Kari Condel
Playing in the adult league at the rink in Whitehall, Pa. is the DeSales University Men’s Ice Hockey club team. The perpetuation of the program depends almost solely on the students with consideration to their drive, ambition, leadership and involvement. That being said, the troupe has had success up to this point and is now in their 16th season donning the red, white and blue.
One downfall of having a club team is it, at times, does not receive the same recognition that a varsity level sport does. Composed of skillful and dedicated individuals in the lineup, the love for the game is very present and brought to the forefront.
“I would like our students and staff to simply know that we have a team, because I know that many people do not know about it,” said the team’s president Michael Gibson.
The men wear their pride on their sleeves, putting themselves on the line at each and every game for the satisfaction of representing not only themselves, but also their team and DeSales family.
In the past, the team only had about four to six games a season, making the competitive side of the sport almost obsolete. The pressure was also turned up, as their schedule did not allow them to lose a game in order to maintain a respectable and noteworthy record.
For the past few years, the best games, from both the players and fans, could be found when pitted up against Lehigh. Even without the Bulldogs being a varsity team, that fact was left behind as rowdy fans and the sense of rivalry was found in each game.
This season started a change in the program as they competed in the adult league. The game began to change shape, as the men now play about 20 or so games to earn the right to compete in playoffs, allowing them to continue the season past the limited amount of games former seasons allocated. As like any other team, the goal is to win the championship, gaining esteem and to be regarded as titleholders.
The team has not only received more games, but participants as well. This year, the team is composed of about 11 to 12 students. No obstacles with the prolongation of the program are apparent at the current moment, but looking into the future, getting enough players may be an issue with the limitations of only being a club team.
It was announced that the MAC conference is going to support three new varsity sports beginning the ’17-’18 season, ice hockey being one of them. Looking at this seemingly new trend of popularity, the players are directly affected by the decisions being made at universities around them, causing them to yearn for the same to come in their future.
“I know that a few teams from the MAC Freedom Conference have already added hockey so maybe this will influence our athletic department to make the same choice,” said Gibson.
The possibility and chance for the program to prosper is a thought very prominent in the minds of these players, anticipating their seemingly sooner than later transformation from a men’s club team to a varsity squad.