Men’s club ice hockey team looks to build on success

The 2011-2012 men’s club ice hockey team hopes to continue the success it has had during previous seasons. Last season, the team beat a number of nationally ranked clubs and won the Terry Martin Invitational Tournament, held at SUNY Canton. They were also the only team to defeat Rutgers University in the Northeast Collegiate Hockey League (NECHL).

“Rutgers was very dominant and it felt great to know we were the team to spoil their perfect season,” senior captain Adam Webster said.

So far this year, the team holds a 2-1 record, with their only loss being against nationally-ranked Rutgers.

Even though the team lost several seniors and is in a rebuilding year, this season the team goal remains the same as it has been in previous seasons: win the NECHL playoffs and be crowned the champions, like the team did in 2008.

The team came close last season, losing to Rutgers in the quarterfinals. Their goals also include winning the Laker Cup, which is played against Mercyhurst, who is also called the Lakers. Off the ice, the team has held a 100 percent graduation rate, which is a feat that is not always easy to reach.

“We are very proud of that fact,” coach Jay Peacock said. “Our players play D-1 college hockey and still graduate and that is the most important thing.”

In 2003, the club team was founded by player/coach Matt Collins and started off as being just for fun. The team only played a couple of games against local schools. The next season, the team gathered more players and played about 15 games. In 2005, even more games were played and the team gained more recognition. This was the year Collins graduated and Peacock was named the new coach.

Prospective players who want to tryout can contact the team in numerous ways, including through the team website, at the student involvement fair, or just showing up at tryouts. Unlike many teams, this team holds open tryouts, where even players from the previous year have to tryout.

“During the weekend and at the end of tryouts, Coach Peacock sits down and discusses with the captains who he believes stood out and we pick the team,” senior assistant captain Nick Phelps said. “Coach Peacock, of course has the final say on who makes the team.”

Each year, 21 players suit up for the team. Most of the players played hockey in high school or junior college.

Even though some do not make the team, they are still able to help. Junior broadcasting major, Brian Tosti, played on the club team for two years, but now has established the first play-by-play webcast in the team’s history. Ths is helpful because the players can go back and use the video as a guide.

While the players are on the team to play hockey, there are other benefits.

“The goal of our organization is to develop the members in our organization to not only be better hockey players but also to do better in real life situations, network, gain experience in running an organization, find ways for members to further their experience in their major while staying a part of the sport and become more well-rounded individuals,” Webster said.

The players are able to have a say in some coaching decisions, do advertising and their own public relations.

Although Oswego State is known for its varsity hockey team, both teams are highly successful. The club players are very proud of the varsity team and fully support them, by going to the games, but a little more recognition is something that the team would like to see in the future.

“If it were not for our varsity program and its rich history we would not have the facilities we have now and hockey would not have the support it has here in Oswego,” Webster said.

The team may not get as many fans as the varsity team, but they are just as dedicated.

“We have the most dedicated, hardcore Oswego fans you can find. They will fight you to the death if you say otherwise,” team president Mike Renick said.

The team has fans that go to every game and the players get to know them, which is more personal than fans for the varsity team.

The Lakers are looking to bounce-back following its 8-3 loss against Rutgers. They travel to the University of Rochester tonight for a game against the Yellow Jackets. The team returns home on Saturday to face-off against Robert Morris of Pennsylvania at 9 p.m.