North Texas Daily

UNT ice hockey hopes for more players for playoff push

UNT ice hockey hopes for more players for playoff push

UNT ice hockey hopes for more players for playoff push
January 31
00:35 2019

With a 1-19 record and only two games left, the UNT club ice hockey team is preparing themselves for their offseason.

This weekend, UNT will be competing in their last games. The team is looking back on what they hope to improve next season and enjoying the last games they will be competing in together. Although the season was not the best the club has had, club president and senior Jose Flores said that the team is nothing shy of optimistic.

“This has actually been one of the best and most fun years we have played hockey,”  Flores said. “I think it was good for the players to be able to get to know each other better and be able to care more about the team.”

UNT competes in the northern division of the Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference (TCHC). Per TCHC regulation, a team must consist of at least seven players. Any less will result in an automatic forfeit of the game. The team having so few players has caused problems throughout the teams season, marketing sophomore Chase Deacon said that without anyone to substitute in, most players are exhausted by the first period.

Criminal justice major Niv Gurfinkel participates in a drill at practice on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Image by Trevon McWilliams.

“I think the only thing we need in the upcoming season is to get more players,”  Deacon said. “It’s kind of tough when some teams have 22 players rostered and we only have eight players. It’s tough because the endurance aspect of it. A group of 22 guys will obviously have a lot more rest than a group of eight, who would only have two extra people on the bench.”

Despite the club’s rough season, the team is still happy with their season overall. Deacon said that they play for the fun of the game not  the score, this way the team is able to keep a positive mindset and always enjoy their time together out on the ice.

“I think we have a lot of guys that are just fun-loving and optimistic dudes that just like playing hockey,” Deacon said. “That’s what makes it a lot more fun coming to the rink every day. Just throwing jokes around but also being able to take [the game] seriously too.”

UNT is one of the only teams in the northern division run by students. The officers manage finances, organize the schedule and club events. However, the club has had multiple volunteer coaches who were UNT alumni who are passionate about the game and the players. 

The club’s current volunteer coach is UNT graduate and former member of the club ice hockey team, Blake Dietrich.  Dietrich attends practices although he does not receive a payment for being a coach.

Accounting junior Sammy Zeiders said that he enjoys having a coach who cares about the team members, not the score.

“He cares about the team, even though he’s not playing anymore,” Zeiders said. “He wants to stay involved and stay in the future and has plans for fundraising and recruiting and wants to help the team along the way.”

The team has a disadvantage compared to other club sports that practice on campus — they practice in Irving at the StarsCenter-Valley Ranch, 30 minutes away from Denton.  Despite the late night commute twice a week and the challenge of school work, each team member puts in effort to juggle it all. 

UNT’s Ice Hockey club Vice President Sammy Zeiders skates in a drill at practice on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Image by Trevon McWilliams.

 Flores said that the officers are looking forward to the off-season in order to generate fundraising ideas and recruitment of new players.  Although the team will not be attending the playoffs for their conference this year, Flores said he believes the team has a chance at advancing next season when new players join. 

“Next year is something we’re really looking forward to,” Flores said. “We are looking for new prospects to come play and go to the playoffs.”

With the season ending, the team will look back and be proud of what they’ve achieved and will search for more players for the upcoming season. 

“I think the best thing we have going for us would be regardless of score or what the outcome would be, it’s just a group of guys that love to play the game,” Zieder said. “We’ll take it seriously when we’re in the game and when we need to be serious, but even to all the seriousness we’re all still playing the game we love and we all are still having fun.” 

Featured Image: With only eight players on their team, UNT’s Ice Hockey team is skating into the offseason with a record of 1-19. Image by: Trevon McWilliams. 

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Bayleigh Swanton

Bayleigh Swanton

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