Competitive edge: Historical club hockey team prevails

Competitive edge: Historical club hockey team prevails

Drew Friedman

Senior captain Kyle Brennan skates down the ice in pursuit of the puck.

Photos courtesy of  Lafayette Athletic Communication

While Division I athletes walk across campus or get bussed 15 minutes to Metzgar Field to practice, the club hockey team travels nearly an hour each way in order to get on the ice. The dedication to the team is that of a varsity sport.

“I’m willing to make the commitment because I love the sport and can’t imagine not playing it,” sophomore Graham Thomas said.

“In order to better yourself, you have to be a cohesive unit with your teammates, and this happens by practicing together,” sophomore defenseman Matt Goldsworthy said. “We are all willing to make this commitment together.”

Being one of the oldest sports teams at Lafayette, the club hockey team was formed in the 1930s despite not being formally recognized by the school. In the 1940s, the team became a varsity sport, playing competitively against the country’s premier competition. After a brief stint at the varsity level, the squad was demoted to the club level, which they have stayed since.

To stay afloat, the team recruits potential players with the help of the school’s admission’s office.

“No matter what level you play hockey is always competitive. We are trying to build a strong program here and it starts with everyone being motivated now to build up the program,” sophomore forward Sam Komrower said. “We make sure we maintain a strong roster by recruiting, and we work with admissions to do so. 13 kids applied and six kids got in [interested in hockey].”

All of the players on the roster played ice hockey at their respective high schools before coming to Lafayette, most of which were looking to play competitively in college.

When asked why did he wanted to play college hockey, junior goalie Alex Hope mimicked a quote from the motion picture Miracle. “Isn’t it obvious? For the girls,” Hope said. “In all seriousness, a lot of the kids on the team could have played [Division] III hockey or even walked on to Division I program, and I could say personally I chose Lafayette because I can do something I love, while also concentrating on academics.

“I can wear many hats, like joining a fraternity and get involved with other clubs,” Hope added.

The team consists of engineers, Marquis scholars, musicians, mock trial members, and the Vice President of the Hillel Society.

The club competes in the American Collegiate Hockey Association at the Division II level against Bucknell, Kutztown, Rutgers, TCNJ, and UPENN, along with others. Traveling to games allows for the teammates to bond, and become a closer unit on and off the ice.

“[Joining the team] was a great way to find a niche in the school’s community early on, as well as meet some upperclassmen whom I probably wouldn’t have otherwise,” freshman Connor Bitterman said. “It didn’t take long before chemistry started clicking, and a large part of that is due to immense amount of time that the team spends together off the ice.”

The unity that all of the players live by is exactly what two of the captains, seniors Kyle Brennan and Eli Karp, dreamt of when bringing back this program that was disbanded in the early 2000’s for lack of commitment, despite winning back to back conference titles in 2001 and 2002.

“In recent years, the captains gave the program a slight makeover…by setting the tone with a high level of play, a rigorous off ice training program, and an emphasis on dedication to the team,” Bitterman said.

The 22-man roster stands at 2-3, (1-2) on the season, and faces Bucknell University and Susquehanna University on Oct. 18th and 19th.

FreshmanDefensemenJoeKenney_courtesyoflaficehockey

Freshman Joe Kenney rips a slap shot on goal.