Developing club ice hockey program boasts D-III status

Bethany Blass, Sports Co-Editor

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Despite a general lack of publicity, the athletes of the University’s ice hockey team invest their time towards enriching the club program and go to great lengths to represent the Orange and Blue on their jerseys with pride. The club team is a great resource for students who have a passion for ice hockey and have been playing for most of their lives. Despite non-varsity status, the team features seasoned athletes sporting experience from some of the top high schools, prep schools, and travel team programs prior to the competitive collegiate level they currently participate in.

“I actually knew that Bucknell had a team prior to accepting admission here, it was something of a requirement in order for school to remain on my radar. I was immediately sold when I saw the jerseys; the bright orange never gets old,” Tim Johnson ’17 said.

According to Johnson, the team has competed in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) since 2008, but has recently joined the Delaware Valley Men’s Collegiate Hockey Conference (DVCHC). The team is coached by Professor of Psychology J.T. Ptacek and managed by Samantha Woolford ’18.

Johnson, who has been on the team since his first year and has never missed a game, feels that his experience with the team has been unforgettable.

“Anyone who has played on a team sport that involves traveling and (especially) locker rooms knows that there is a different kind of bond that is inherent when you spend six months living, competing, and fighting together. When you win and lose together, you make connections that you simply cannot recreate with anyone else,” Johnson said. 

In constant competition for a National Championship, the team competes at a Division-III level and played in over 25 games during the 2015-2016 season, even facing some varsity opponents. A standard weekend for the team involves traveling as far as New Jersey, Maryland, or New York to compete in one or two games. The team travels to the Sunbury Ice Rink to practice on-ice two days a week from October through February. Additionally, the team holds dry land training several times a week for conditioning.

“Without a doubt, the best part about being on the team here is the brotherhood among the guys,” Johnson said. “It’s obviously great to continue playing the game that I love at a collegiate level, something I dreamed about growing up, but nothing beats the relationships that you build with the guys in the locker room, on the buses, on the bench, and of course, on the ice.”

The club ice hockey roster has about 20 students ranging from first-years to seniors. The University’s team has established a competitive program and hopes to continue expanding so that the athletes can compete at the highest level possible without having to worry about the hassles of securing ice time, locker room space, or the costs of uniforms and transportation. The team’s closet in the Kenneth Langone Athletic & Recreation Center (KLARC) is just about all the athletes have to signify their ice hockey program. Johnson considers the necessity to give lesser-known club programs, like the ice hockey team, the recognition they deserve.

“I’m proud of our team for willingly flying under the radar, for continuing to improve and thrive as the Bucknell ice hockey team even though we get very little support. I’m most proud of our guys for playing with such passion, intensity, and dedication, even though it seems like nobody’s watching,” Johnson said. 

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