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Humble beginnings launched hockey program

Courtesy of Anthony Fries
Courtesy of Anthony Fries

On the south side of Miami's campus sits the pride and joy of RedHawk athletics: Goggin Ice Center.

This 12-year-old, $34.8 million arena fits 3,642 fans for Miami home games, giving Oxford's favorite team a house fit for a king.

Since Goggin's arrival, the RedHawks have skated their way to a pair of Frozen Four appearances, eight NCAA tournaments while coming up just one minute shy of winning the 2009 National Championship.

While this proud program lists its origin to the first Miami varsity team in 1978, its roots can be traced back even farther.

Just ask Dan Huss.

After graduating from Miami in the '60s, Huss has remained in Oxford. In those years, he has practiced law, served as a professor while sending his children and grandchildren to his alma mater.

He also played a crucial part in the start of Miami hockey.

As a professor, Huss was approached by a Canadian student interested in starting a club hockey team. Huss signed off as faculty sponsor of the team, thus beginning Miami hockey.

At the time, the club team functioned without the resources the current program enjoys. According to Huss, the team had to drive to Northern Kentucky just to get to practice since no suitable ice rinks existed on campus.

"It [hockey] certainly wasn't like it is now," Huss said.

During this time, students only cared about football and basketball. In 1974 and 1975, the football RedHawks took down Georgia and South Carolina and found themselves ranked in the top 12 in the AP Poll at the end of both seasons.

"Football and basketball were the two dominant things," Huss said.

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However, after a rough stretch in the early '80s for football and basketball, the culture began to shift. The hockey program took off as it moved from a club team to a varsity team while the football team went from undefeated seasons to a winless season. As a result, Miami students fell in love with hockey.

"The students didn't want to go to football games. And hockey, all of a sudden, boomed," Huss said. "For the way the students embraced hockey, it just took over."

Despite the RedHawks going 23-40-12 in the past two hockey seasons, Goggin Ice Center is still a buzzing place, full of passionate students yelling provocative chants at opposing players.

Yet the true origin of Miami hockey is found 0.9 miles from Goggin at the office of Bolin and Troy where Huss practices law in a cozy, white wooden workplace.

This quaint two-story building remains the same as the years go by. Kelly Fries, Huss' daughter, sits at the front desk after the door creaks open on the chipped wooden steps. An old map of Oxford hangs on Huss' wall next to a 50-year achievement plaque.

Huss' humble office is quite the contrast from the flashy amenities of Goggin Ice Center, but is much more reflective of the simple roots of Miami hockey.