Club hockey flying under the radar
Miami University has always prided itself on having a strong varsity hockey team, which is currently ranked fourth in the nation.
However, it is not the only team on campus that can play the game, and play it well might I add. Currently residing at the top of their division with a 12-1-0 record, the Miami club hockey team is shutting down the opposition left and right.
The team's current record is the best start it has had since the 1999-2000 season. During that season, the team won Nationals.
To start out the season, the team had two impressive wins against Penn State University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Both teams were considered to be hopefuls for the Nationals tournament this year.
The team is no stranger to success as it has qualified for Nationals 14 of the last 16 seasons. It appears that others are taking notice as the team received a unanimous no. 1 ranking in the Southeast region.
The Miami club hockey program was responsible for starting the varsity program on campus. The club team created the winning tradition at Miami and it is clear that the tradition has continued on to the varsity level.
The team travels frequently to Michigan, Chicago, St. Louis and Maryland, playing many of the teams the varsity team competes against. Its top competition includes Michigan, Michigan State and Ferris State, to name a few.
While club hockey receives less publicity on campus, now is the time to give credit where credit is due.
Made up mostly of AAA and junior caliber players, the program is very serious and the players are wholeheartedly committed to the team. The team's winning mentality has allowed it to control its opponents in every facet of the game.
Club is nothing like intramurals, which some people mistakenly compare it to. The players' ability to succeed on the ice is likely a result of their work ethic off the ice.
They have mandatory team runs every Monday and 90 minute practices twice a week.
"This year is a fresh start compared to last year," Mike Olivear, the team's vice president said. "Last year was a disappointment since we did not advance to the National tournament. This year the team is more mature and focused on the goals at hand."
Many of the returners as well as the coaches learned a great deal from last year's disappointing season.
They have adopted a new attitude this year.
In order to remain focused on making a deep run in the National tournament, the team approaches each game as if it were "the biggest game of the season," and the men have formed an identity as a blue collar hockey team.
In hockey, as in most sports, doing the little things is what sets one apart from the competition. That means taking the hit in the corner to complete the breakout pass, back-checking when you have no energy left and so on.
This team is doing all the little things and that is why it has found success.
With strong senior leadership, the players strive to make the team a cohesive unit that is held accountable for each individual's actions.
The club team is highly competitive and often produces great hockey that students ought to start watching.
Miami's hockey tradition is as strong as ever and students need not forget that there is not just one hockey team on campus.
With no end in sight to the current NHL lockout, we could always use a little extra hockey, right?
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