by Megan DePrimio, Staff Writer
Fans do not have to wait in anticipation any longer as hockey season has officially begun. While NHL fanatics are ready to cheer their teams to victory, SVC students should also be excited to support their own Polar Bearcats.
Due largely in part to faculty advisor, Professor Tom Holowaty, the SVC hockey club team was re-instated in the fall of 1999, after being disbanded in the 1980’s. While the question “Why is hockey only a club sport at SVC?” may arise, in actuality, the majority of collegiate hockey teams in the United States are only club teams. Few teams are officially NCAA Division I, II, and III, yet all hockey teams, sport and club, can be found in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).
Despite the fact that SVC is a smaller Division III college, head coach Mike Ziemianski and the Polar Bearcats have had considerable success in the recent past. Because of its club status, the team did not have to wait a probation period in SVC’s transition from NAIA Division II to NCAA Division III, and thus reached the national play-offs and finished 11th in the country twice in the early 2000’s.
Ziemianski said, “Our expectations are for the players to learn to work together as a unit, represent the school and themselves with character, and to acquire additional life skills through the athletic experience that will position them for further success after graduation.”
Last year, the team started off strong , going 9-0 before suffering a few injuries. However, this did not discourage players as the team finished 13-7-1 and was able to get to the national qualifier games due to their ranking at the end of the regular season.
SVC belongs to what is known as the South Division of the College Hockey East League (CHE). The team’s goals this year are to win the CHE Championship and get a bid to the national championship held in Michigan in March.
Assistant coach Larry Hendrick believes winning these championships is a good possibility. He said, “We, as a coaching staff, are expecting a lot from the players this year. We have a very good returning group of skaters that should be able to improve on last year’s skills and systems in order for us to reach the goals set before the team for this year.”
The incoming freshmen bring their skills to the ice and “seem to compliment the returning players very well” Coach Hendrick said.
Thanks to team captain DJ Beital and assistant captains Chris Hilling, Mario Siard, and Dave Ulishney, leadership, hard work, and the desire to not be beaten by anyone are qualities the team embodies and relies upon for its success.
For sophomore Jake Hendrick, the hockey team was “something that drew me to SVC. All of the coaches are supportive, and being a part of the SVC hockey team is fun. All of the guys are nice, and we have a close team.”
Any SVC fans that want to support the hockey team can refer to the schedule online at http://www.collegehockeyeast.com. Home games are held at Center Ice in Delmont and begin at 2:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted.