By GRACE SMITH
When people think Miami, they rarely picture ice arenas or hockey pucks. But the University of Miami is home to a passionate club men’s hockey team who will wrap up their season this weekend at the Southern Collegiate Hockey Conference championship playoff.
The team is a self-motivated club sport with all the drive and hard work of a typical university varsity team. It started out as a roller hockey team but, after winning the national title in the sport in 2011, it transitioned easily to ice hockey, which most of its players started out on.
Between the travel distance to an off-campus rink and the personal costs of participating, those who hit the ice truly love the game.
The hockey team is young, with only one senior and two juniors, but the coaches and players only see that as an obvious advantage in the future.
Team captain and lone senior Ben Hoar commented, “The average age for the team is about 18 or 19, which makes it intimidating to go against teams where that number is up around 21. But it also means the team will grow together and it is the start of a great program.”
As the team becomes more established within itself, it also welcomes a new home rink: Pines Ice Arena in Pembroke Pines. After only its first season there, the rink is decorated with University of Miami banners and the signature “U” is painted on the ice.
However, the team will be traveling up to Coral Springs to the Florida Panthers’ Ice Den for the SCHS playoff. On Friday at 4:45 p.m., the team faces off against University of South Florida, and the winner of that bracket will play #2 University of Central Florida on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. As the Hurricanes are 6th and last in their conference, they sit outside the championship bracket but can contend for a final third through sixth ranking through the weekend.