The Mighty Scots: A Historic Season for Macalester Hockey


Photo courtesy of Owen Pearlman, ’23

Finn Veerkamp, Contributing Writer

If you stumbled into the Highland Arena late at night on Friday, Feb. 10, you would be forgiven for thinking the Macalester hockey club just won some sort of championship. A crowd some 500 strong clambored from their seats, pressing up against the boards to let out a raucous cheer as the Men’s team captains led the traditional post-game chant: MACALESTER! (Macalester)! IS WONDERFUL! (Is wonderful)! 

This was the scene in the immediate aftermath of the Hands of Time Cup, a fundraiser match put on by the club in collaboration with the Hendrickson Foundation, a charity dedicated to making hockey accessible to all, especially children with disabilities. Men’s team co-captain Stefan Gullickson ’23 described the atmosphere as “electric … the highlight of the season.” 

Macalester lost the game in question, a hotly contested end-to-end battle, but nobody really cared. 

“That’s not what it was about,” Felicia Winfrey ’25, a women’s team co-captain, said. “It’s about raising money.” 

And raise money they did. All told, the hockey club brought in over $10,000 in an event that saw dancing acts between periods and pre-match entertainment. 

The cause championed by the Hendrickson Foundation is one close to the hearts of the members of the hockey clubs. To them, the spirit of club hockey is one of trying new things, having fun, and fostering community. All skill levels are welcome on the team, and there is quite the range of hockey experience. Gullickson has been playing hockey since he was three years old. 

On the other hand, future men’s team co-captain Adley Schwartz ’25 hadn’t touched a hockey stick until he got to college. 

“I just wanted to do Minnesota things,” Schwartz joked. “I wanted to be active.” 

He wasn’t the only one with this sentiment. Winfrey joined the team to try something new and spoke glowingly about the friends she’s made since joining the team. 

“Hockey is just the most Minnesotan thing ever,” Winfrey said. . “ There’s people that I never would have talked to if not for hockey, but now [are] some of my closest friends.” 

That is not to say the team doesn’t care about their product on the ice. They practice twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, often late at night when the ice at Highland is available. The men’s and women’s teams share the ice for their practices, and sometimes during games: 

“We are probably one of the most collaborative clubs,” Winfrey said. “Everyone’s trying their best and trying something new.” 

This spirit of collaboration helps everyone improve, no matter their skating background..

“It didn’t really matter that I didn’t know how to play,” Lily Schwegler ’23 said. She had no experience when she joined the team. “They [teach] you everything that you need to know, they outfit us in all of the gear … and transport to and from the rink.” 

Schwegler, a senior, is now a team co-captain. The captains do everything from reserving ice time to leading practices to sending emails, a monumental task that requires passion and commitment. Schwegler has watched the team grow over the years she’s been a part of it. Her freshman year, the team only played a small handful of exhibition games. This year, they played eight. 

Gullickson, also a senior, noted it was the longest and most historic season they’ve had in his four years on the team. Aside from the Hands of Time Cup, the teams played their annual matches against rival schools Carleton College and St. Olaf College, as well as exhibitions against local amateur teams. 

“We’re always trying to look for new competitors,” Schwegler said. “Because the games are the most fun part.”

The Carleton games were a highlight of the season. The men’s team traveled to Northfield to play them early in the season and lost, setting up a pair of revenge games on home turf (well, home ice). The teams launched a campus-wide advertising campaign for the matches with colorful posters and catchy slogans: Fight for the second worst collegiate team in MN, read the signs. Two games for the price of one (free), hot ppl in hockey gear. A livestream link was posted for those who couldn’t make the games. It was nearly impossible to find a wall on campus not adorned by the faces of the hockey captains. 

The advertising worked. Hundreds of Macalester students descended on Highland Arena for the doubleheader in blue and orange, piling onto A-line buses to looks of bemusement from the late night drivers. The fans established the atmosphere early, letting out deafening cheers for the zamboni driver as he cleared the ice, much to his amusement. 

The stage was set, and the games delivered. Lucas Nelson ’25, a soon-to-be men’s team co-captain, called the occasion “the most fun hockey game I’ve ever been a part of”. High praise, considering he’s been playing hockey since he was four years old. 

The first leg of the doubleheader saw the women’s team fall in an onslaught. A brave performance was not enough to overcome an early deficit, but Schwegler saw positives regardless. 

Photo courtesy of Owen Pearlman, ’23

“We did not necessarily win … but we had a lot of turnout for the players and everyone clearly showed improvement,” Schwegler said. “It was just the scores that were not reflecting that.”

 The men’s team, looking to avenge their own loss to Carleton as well as the women’s,  came agonizingly close to a historic victory, before ultimately losing in a shootout. Gullickson and fellow captain Mason Chambal ’23 were standout performers, as was Theo Crosby ’25, the lone goalscorer for the Scots in regulation. 

Despite the losses, spirits remained high. Hundreds of Mac students hung around after the game, congratulating their friends, and the post-game chants went off as usual.

The only person in the building who had a bad night may have been the hot dog stand manager, who faced lines dozens deep at every break in the action. 

The season wrapped up this past weekend. The men’s team finished strong in spirit if not in scoreline, falling 9-6 at the hands of St. Olaf, while the women’s team ended with their first ever game against Team Trans, a partnership Schwegler and others are excited to continue. The end of the campaign marks the start of big changes for both teams. 

Photo courtesy of Owen Pearlman, ’23

Winfrey expressed optimism about the future of the women’s team. While they will lose some key players, the squad is young and hungry to keep growing and improving. 

Schwartz noted that the men’s team were losing six of their best players from a team of 12-20 people. For them, new faces will abound on the ice in 2024. 

“This is definitely the peak of our seasons… for the next couple of years,” Schwartz said. 

For some members of the team, the end was bittersweet. 

“I’m sad to leave,” Gullickson lamented, “I’m sorry I don’t get to do it next year … but I’m sure the tradition will carry on.” 

Of that there is no doubt.