By ALLISON HAMMOND
The Kennesaw State club hockey team is welcomed back on the ice by an arena full of loyal fans after serving an entire year of suspension this past season.
Last year it was announced the team would not be able to play for the entire 2013-14 season due to unspecified violations of the club sports policies. This resulted in angry players as well as enraged and disappointed fans.
However, the team made a strong comeback and hit the ice for the first time this year on Sept. 19 against Ole Miss, resulting in a victory for the Owls. With over 1,500 people in attendance, you could say the hockey team is a favorite among Kennesaw students.
“Playing in that first game back was great,” said senior defensivemen, Chris Snyder. “Having to serve a whole year suspension was tough, but having everyone there to welcome us back was a pretty special feeling for our team.”
The team devoted a lot of time for preparation and practice before its first game.
“We didn’t really know what to expect when we came back out there on the ice, but we all clicked together as a team and seeing all the support we had made it all worth it,” said Snyder.
Kennesaw State’s fan base at every game is really what sets the university apart from others in the league. Each game is usually packed on all sides of the arena, and there is entirely too much excitement to sit down.
The team gathered much of its fame from winning a national championship in 2007.
“The best thing about playing for the hockey team is the fact that I get to play in front of all the fans. Everywhere that we travel no one has near the attendance that we have so having the home advantage with the fans gives the team a real boost,” said Snyder.
These hockey players have a love for the game and truly enjoy playing for the crowd as well as themselves. Being forced to serve that year of suspension really put things into perspective for many of the players and allowed them to appreciate the game that much more.
“The reason I play hockey is because of the comradery. It’s not just a bunch of guys playing a sport; it’s a family and a friendship that you will carry for the rest of your life. I’m still very close friends with guys I played with in past years,” said team captain and defensivemen, Dylan Conklin.
Hockey means something different to each and every player out there, and people are apart of the team for different reasons. It is safe to say the suspension made an impact on everyone in different ways.
“To me hockey means a whole lot. Last year was the first time in my life that I took an extended period of time off, and the break made me realize how much I enjoy the game. Life is much more busy now with practices and traveling but I would much rather be busy playing hockey than to be bored without it,” said Snyder.
KSU’s hockey team is a club sport, which means it is not sanctioned by the NCAA. Club sports do not offer scholarships and may not always be funded by the institution. They exist to allow students to pursue their interest in the sport regardless of skill or previous playing history.
Now that the Owls are back, it is important for them to concentrate on the upcoming season and how they can improve and play together as a team. With over 20 games, and the season running all the way to the middle of February, the team has a lot on their plate.
The team continues to practice for their upcoming games in which they will face Coastal Carolina, East Carolina and Florida Atlantic on Nov. 7-10. The Owl’s next home game facing Florida State will be held Nov. 14 at the Ice Forum.
Their current record stands at 8-3-1.
With the constant support of their fans, the hockey team is looking forward to a challenging, yet exciting, road ahead.