Club team takes the ice with aspirations in mind
THE SANTA CLARA
January 16, 2014
In a place where the sun shines almost all year long, the Santa Clara men’s club ice hockey team lives life in the cold.
Bonded by their passion for the sport and their love for musician Ben Howard, the hockey team is well on its way this season, currently holding a record of 7-6-1.
This tight-knit group of players hopes to put Santa Clara hockey on the map and make an appearance in the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association postseason later in the year.
“We’re expecting to make the playoffs this year,” said junior wing David Griffin. “If we win our next few games that will put us in a good position for that. Our goal is to win the league in playoffs and hopefully get a chance to go to regionals.”
Head Coach Brian Gray also believes that the team has a legitimate shot once the puck is dropped for playoff action.
“We have a really good team this year and there’s no reason why we can’t win it all,” said Gray.
The team faces competition from schools such as Stanford University, University of California, Davis, and San Francisco State University. With such a demanding schedule, the squad puts in work like any other college athletic team.
“It’s an adjustment for freshman and newcomers because its very different from other types of hockey,” said junior defender Alex Warner. “It’s a completely different atmosphere — competition and commitment-wise.”
Newcomer Christian Miller agreed.
“I have seen players of a caliber I haven’t previously experienced, both on our team and in our opponents,” said Miller. “The competition is much stronger here.”
Despite high-stakes pressure, the team has a great time both at practice and in the games.
“Practices are very focused on improving our team play,” said Miller. “We laugh and have a good time, but there is no doubt that we get a lot of work done at our practices.”
Despite the occasional jokes, Griffin agreed that the squad takes care of business when they need to.
“The mood at practice is laid back,” said Griffin. “But all the guys put in effort, and they’re out there working their hardest every time they’re on the ice.”
The team’s hard work has paid off. Only two of their six losses this season have been by more than one goal.
“We’ve been a little off in games,” said Gray. “We’ve lost a few that we should have won easily enough.”
At the team’s core are players such as Griffin and Warner, students who have been dedicated to the program since their freshman year at Santa Clara.
New to the team this year are a handful of freshmen as well as sophomore center Kelly McGonigle.
“I didn’t play last year because I didn’t think I’d have time,” said McGonigle. “I decided to come out this year and I love it. Last year I missed the competitive nature of games and the camaraderie of being on a team. It’s great to have that this year.”
McGonigle is one of six rookies on the team this year.
“We have a whole spectrum of guys, experience level-wise, which makes for an interesting team dynamic,” said McGonigle. “Its great to have all different abilities on the team — everyone’s getting better.”
While the team welcomes a few new players this year, they’ll also say goodbye to a few of its graduating teammates.
“All the seniors play a special role on the team and we’ll miss them all, especially since we have such a small team,” said Warner.
Despite the seniors’ upcoming departure, the team’s newcomers have had a chance to learn from the veterans all season long.
“The leadership aspect of having the older guys mentor the newer guys is great for the team,” said McGonigle. “Hockey is a game built on chemistry, and we’re building that every time we step on the ice together.”
The Broncos will face their next opponent, Stanford’s club ice hockey team, on Jan. 17 at the Nazarth Ice Oasis in Redwood City, Calif.
“I think this is a building year and we could’ve done a little better this season,” said McGonigle. “But we’re optimistic for next year because we’ll have more experience and I think the wins will start coming.”
Contact Sydney Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.