October Club Sport of the Month: Ice Hockey

University Recreation is proud to recognize Men’s Club Ice Hockey as Club Sport of the Month. The club first formed in the 1970’s as the NC State Ice Hockey Organization and has since been very successful. Last year, the team earned the bronze medal in the ACCHL championship, medalling for the third year in a row! According to the Technician, the team has a substantial fanbase that helped them raise over $6,000 for a new locker room in the Raleigh IcePlex, where they practice and host games. The new locker room is an incredible gift for the Ice Hockey Club because they don’t have anywhere to put their equipment, so many just leave their pads and sticks in their cars. The teammates have spent many nights and weekends build much of the locker room themselves.

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I was able to interview NC State’s Men’s Club Ice Hockey Team president, Garrett Sunda, to learn more about the team.

University Recreation: When does your season start, and how long does your season last? 

Garrett Sunda: We start practicing at the end of august, our games begin mid September and we play until the ACC tournament in mid February.  

UR: Does your team have any recent achievements that you are especially proud of?
GS: Last year we claimed our third consecutive ACC Regular Season title, which gave us a total of 7, more than any other team in the ACC.

UR: What is a tradition your team has?
GS:  After each practice, a player on the team “gives thanks” which is a short talk about what that person is thankful for such as an upcoming game or thankful for a previous win. It’s a fun tradition that can be both serious and humorous and brings everyone together at the end of each practice.

UR: What is your favorite thing about playing and being a part of a Club Sports team at N.C. State?
GS: Being a student run team gives us flexibility such as who we want to play against and when we want to practice.  It also allows us to focus on our academics while still enjoying the sport we all love.

UR: How often do you practice? What is your typical practice like?
GS: We practice on the ice three times a week, 6:30 a.m. Monday9:15 p.m. Tuesday10:45 p.m. Thursday.  We also have team workouts at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.  The typical on-ice practice involves skill improvement drills, team based drills and some form of conditioning.  It’s a lot of practice each week but that’s what allows us to continue our success.

UR: What is it like to travel around and compete against different schools?
GS: It’s great to be able to see different universities and play different opponents.  Some of the road trips can definitely be tough though. Last night we didn’t get home from Clemson until 5:00 a.m. after a 9:15 p.m. game.

UR: What is your best memory about the Ice Hockey Club team?
GS: In the last home game of my Sophomore year we were up against George Washington.  We were ranked first and GW was second, and the winner would clinch the Regular Season ACC Title.  After going down a few goals early, we started to lose hope.  We kept at it though and ended up being able to tie up the game late in the third period.  We went on to win the game in a shootout and the crowd went crazy.  Definitely a game I will never forget.

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UR: What if someone is interested in the Ice Hockey Club? How can they find out more information? Are there tryouts?
GS:  If someone is interested in joining our team we suggest they fill out a recruit form on our website or email us at icehockey-club@ncsu.edu. Each year there are tryouts in the fall.

UR: What sets Ice Hockey apart from other sports?
GS: As an organization we’ve been growing a lot over the last few years and we now have the support of a rapidly expanding fan base.  It’s awesome to have students and other members of the community support us at our games.  At our UNC rivalry game last year we had over 600 fans! In general, Ice Hockey is different than other sports because it combines a wide range of athletic abilities.  Each player has to be fast and agile but also strong enough to maintain possession of the puck in each battle.  Ice hockey also isn’t a sport that can be quickly picked up. Being able to skate takes years to learn and perfect.  Most of our players have been playing since they were very young.

Stephen Russell Hockey Poster

Club Ice Hockey invites you to join them this weekend, October 9 through the 11, for their  Annual Stephen Russell Memorial Tournament. The tournament in is a memoriam in honor of a beloved teammate who passed in 2009. The tournament was previously called the Canes Cup, which was sponsored by the Hurricanes. In 2009, the team retired Stephen’s jersey and the Hurricanes renamed the tournament in his honor. Stephen’s family and the team work together with the generous donations from the fans to sponsor this tournament. The tournament was relatively small until last year. This year marks the second year the tournament is the official season opener with the entire league and other region schools participating. The goal of the tournament is to promote sportsmanship, teamwork, the student athletes, and academic excellence. The schedule is jam-packed, so come join the excitement!

Home games are at the Raleigh IcePlex and tickets are available at a reduced price for students.

Think and just do it,

Sarah