Mike Wilbon won’t let it be discussed on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.” GW doesn’t have a varsity team, neither do the other 11 colleges or universities in the Atlantic 10 and Caps prices are upwards of 40 bucks a pop. For a typical GW student, it’s hard to find a hockey game in the District. So what’s a puck fan to do?
Check out the GW Club Ice Hockey team.
Founded in 1997, the GW club ice hockey team won its league championship in its first year. Since then, they have remained competitive in the Mason-Dixon Collegiate Hockey Association, a non-NCAA league consisting of 14 local colleges and universities. The GW team plays American, Catholic, and of course, Georgetown.
Georgetown is the team’s biggest rival, team president Rebecca Scheinkman said, as they play the Hoyas at the MCI center at the beginning of every season. This year, GW tied Georgetown in an Oct. 11 game after the Capitals’ opening night.
Scheinkman said the night is also the team’s biggest fundraiser, as it sells tickets to the Caps game and its own game for a discounted price.
The team also shut out Georgetown for the first time ever this season in a Nov. 23 game.
After a disappointing 2002 season, when the team finished last in the Southern Division, the team has rebounded in 2003 and currently holds an 8-5 record. Under the leadership of junior captain Paul Kennedy and senior goalie Eric Jenson the team is headed toward the next weekend’s playoffs as one of the top teams in the league.
This year for the first time the team is a part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, increasing the number and caliber of opponents and allowing them to go to National Championships.
The team must pay dues to be part of the association, part of the $300 participation fee. New members must buy a jersey for $70.
“We have to pay for ice time, referees, equipment, medical supplies etc.,” Jenson, the team’s treasurer, said, explaining the team’s $10,000 a year expenses.
The dearth of funds has a staggering affect on the team – this season they only have two practices on weeks they do not have games, played at the Ft. Dupont Ice Arena in the Southeast Washington.
But while many on the team wish to attain status as a varsity sport and get the financial backing that comes with it, team members admit it probably will not happen anytime soon.
“We are pretty realistic about hockey becoming a varsity sport,” Jensen said. “We don’t expect it to happen in the near future. Hockey isn’t as big as a draw in D.C. as it is in the Northeast or Northwest.”
The situation speaks to a larger problem that hockey is having in America. National Hockey League ratings have dropped consistently over the past couple of years and for the first time soccer is making a push for America’s fifth favorite team sport. The Washington Capitals’ attendance is down from last year by nearly 10 percent.
But while hockey’s popularity continues to wane across America, it is growing at GW. The hockey team now has to make cuts and considered making up a B squad for men and women this year but decided not to for lack of competition.
“It’s gotten more and more intense over the past two seasons,” Scheinkman said. “More and more people that hear from their friends are coming out for the team.”
Now the team has grown to 21 members, 19 undergraduates and two graduate students, all of which made the team in the fall tryouts.
“We’re getting better,” Jenson said. “Each year we get more talented and subsequently have to make more cuts.”
And as they approach the playoffs next week, the men look forward to the future.
“The league we are playing in is getting better,” Jenson said “But at the same time we are getting more talented each season.
-Lauren Silva contributed to this report