Ice…Ice…Baby. The wild world of men's hockey

By Jamie Macpherson

It’s 10:30 on a typical weekday night. Most students are probably settling in, maybe just getting a start on the homework due the next day. The men’s hockey team, however, may just be stepping out onto the ice for practice. Twice a week the team loads up all its gear and heads over to either Drake Arena or Highland Arena to play hockey. Typically, they try to schedule one practice and one game per week. Why the late practice time? “It’s just what works,” Captain Aaron Rosenblum ’10 said.I met with the captains of the Hockey team last Tuesday night in the Campus Center, with Michael Jackson blaring in the background. “This makes me want to start dancing!” Jeff Swick ’09 admitted. As they introduce themselves, the captains are modest about their skills. “You should talk to James Engeln, he’s our best player,” they said.

Engeln ’09 responded, “No, [Goalie Aaron Rosenblum] is stellar.”

A team with a storied past, the sport was restarted as a club four years ago by Anthony Berglund ’07. Now the team plays mostly other club teams, collegiate as well as middle aged local squads. Hockey had originally been a varsity sport at Mac, but died out during the 70s. During the 80s and 90s, several attempts were made to bring it back, Berglund’s attempt being the most recent. Out of respect, the team has decided to retire Berglund’s jersey this year, honoring his efforts on and off the ice.

This year, the men are off to a successful start of the season, with a 2-0 record. “We’re undefeated!” Swick laughed. Last week’s game against Northwestern Bible College is particularly noteworthy as it was the first victory against an undergraduate college since the seventies.

“We have a strong freshman class,” Rosenblum said. “Especially Nick “Coon” [Santrach] from Coon Rapids. We also have a lot of good upperclassmen recruits, like Carson Gorecki.”

The returning players are also strong. Returning Goalie Rosenblum “The Wall,” made 48 saves in the last game alone.

But the score doesn’t seem to matter as much to the team as actually being able to play. “It’s the best game,” Engeln said. With a knowing look, he elaborated, “As the hockey team, we share a love for the ice like the Frisbee team shares a love for grass.”

The men also say they enjoy playing because of the large fan base. “I do it for the ladies,” Swick laughed. “But we do get a lot of support in terms of fans. Fans and fun, the two F’s.” Engeln agreed, calling them “outstanding die hard fans.”

“[At] our first game of the season the entire stands at Highland were filled, Rosenblum said. “There must have been 200 fans.”

The game’s physicality also adds to the excitement of the game. While players rarely get seriously hurt, the risk of injury always exists. Last game, one of the players, Colin Smith ’09, ended up having to go to the hospital.

“Colin is soft,” Swick joked. “He barely got touched, and had to go to the emergency room to get like seven or eight stitches.” Swick explained that he is a close friend of Smith: the teasing is all in good fun.

Because the team has to pay for rink time, practices are limited to an hour a week, scheduled around other events at the arenas. With the help of coach Ned Tervola, the captains lead practice, running drills and working on team skills such as defensive play and breakouts. Each practice ends in a shoot out or scrimmage. “It lets [the players] know they had a good time,” Rosenblum said.

Some of the players have been playing for a long time and are able to help coach others. Engeln, the “utility player”, has been playing hockey for over ten years. Swick began skating in his hometown Fond du Lac, Wis., at age three, as soon as he learned to walk.

“We have tremendous leadership from the captains,” Club Sports Director Vanessa Seljeskog said. “A lot falls on their shoulders.”

The team also faces the challenge of finding teams to play against. “It’s really hard to get opponents,” Swick said. Unlike in the MIAC where there’s a set list of other teams to play, in clubs sports it’s up to the coach and captains to contact other teams and set up their own schedule. In the past, Mac has played teams like St. Thomas Law School and the Carleton College club team. The captains are careful to find teams who are at the same skill level.

“There’s definitely an underdog spirit to club sports,” Rosenblum summed up. “We’re having fun.” He says he hopes to organize a charity skating event through the hockey team within the next few years, possibly in collaboration with the women’s team. But in general, he says he skates because he enjoys the game. “[I skate for] the glory,” He said. “It’s just fun.”

The team’s next game is Saturday at 10 p.m. at the Drake Arena on Randolph Avenue. “We have hockey t-shirts for sale,” Rosenblum said with a smile.