“We’d still be playing if we had five people in the stands” said Men’s Club Hockey Co-Captain Doug Lewis ’17, reflecting on the team’s season opener. More than a hundred people showed up to cheer on the Scots for their 2015-16 debut this past Saturday night at the Drake Arena in St. Paul. Fellow Co-Captain Danny Halloran ’16 recalls when the support for their team was just a fraction of what is is today. “Coming into my freshman year we had 10 guys on the team and like 5 football guys that would show up to watch the games,” Halloran said.
The overwhelming support that the team has gotten over the past couple years has come as a huge surprise to Halloran and Lewis, both Minnesota natives. Aware of Macalester’s diverse student body, both captains know that most people do not know or care much about hockey. Halloran believes, however, that this actually draws many spectators in. “A lot of people who come here have never watched hockey before, so it’s kind of an interesting thing for them to see,” Halloran said.
Hockey has been a major part of both Halloran’s and Lewis’ lives from very early on. Born and raised in the great hockey state of Minnesota, both captains started playing as soon as they could hold a stick. Playing hockey was never really a question, especially for Halloran, whose grandfather is in his 50th year as head hockey coach for Rochester Mayo High School. On the Macalester Club Hockey Team, however, players like Halloran and Lewis are anomalies. Halloran remembers, “When I came here my freshman year, we had like 10 kids on the ice and I was the only kid who played high school hockey.” Those numbers have changed slightly since then, but experience is definitely something that the team does not rely on.
“We have a few guys, Danny and myself, and a couple others who have been playing their whole lives through high school. Then we have a few guys who played through middle school or so and know how to skate pretty well. And then we have some who know how to skate but never really played organized hockey,” Lewis said. The variety of experience creates a very interesting dynamic during the limited practices that the team has. “It’s hard at first, because before you try to get better as a team, you have to assess and understand where people are at,” Lewis said.
As some of the most experienced guys on the team, Halloran and Lewis have adopted a sort of player-coach role alongside the team’s volunteer coaches. They help decide which skills the team will work on during practice and help the beginners adjust to the level of play. The team only has two or three practices before each season begins, and one practice a month thereafter, so they there isn’t much time to get ready for their games. The players make the best of it though and work hard on their own to improve. Goalie Graham Husick ’18, for example, has just about no hockey experience, but used to play goalie in lacrosse. Along with the help of his teammates, he has been able to develop and adapt his skills to the ice. Halloran and Lewis are members of the Macalester Baseball team as well, which had a big influence on their decisions to come to Macalester. Making that decision, however, also meant that they would be stepping down a level of competitiveness in hockey. For these two athletes, that step has had many positives. “Compared to high school, it’s definitely a drop down in competition, but I have more fun playing club at Macalester,” Halloran said.
Lewis describes it as “a very pleasant breath of fresh air of the sport.” Removing stern coaches and strict intrasquad competitiveness from the equation makes for a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience. “We’re all out here to have a good time,” Lewis said.
Despite losing to their opponent 6-10 on Saturday, the team battled hard throughout, rallying back to tie the game late in the second period. “It would have been nice to win, but we’ve got next week,” Halloran said. Unfortunately the team’s next game has been cancelled, so they won’t be taking the ice again until December 12th. This will mark the second game of their eight game season. Future opponents include Carleton, Northwestern and Hamline’s club hockey teams, as well as a few men’s league teams and an intramural team from the area.