By: KASSIDY CALLAHAN
KENNESAW, Ga. — With more popular men’s club sports like football, soccer and basketball, not many students know about the Kennesaw State University roller hockey team.
The 2015-2016 team started the season ranked seventh in nation according to the National Roller Hockey Association. The team was 10th going into the regional tournament Feb. 21. Last year’s team made it to the second round of the national tournament, and were the Southeastern Collegiate Roller Hockey League regional champions.
The club roller hockey team at KSU was formed in 2008. Now in its seventh season, the team is coached by Drew Barnard. This is Barnard’s last season as coach. The team’s season came to an end Feb. 21. 2016, after the team lost to Florida Gulf Coast University 1-6 in the regional finals in Snellville, Georgia.
Last year was a rebuilding year for the team. This year, most of the players came back, and the team went on to continue winning. The team had a regular season record of 14-2, even better than last year’s record of 11-5.
“We are doing our best to represent the school in the best way we can as a serious sport,” said Brent Sweeney, captain of KSU Roller Hockey.
The two losses during the regular season for the team came from Florida Gulf Coast University. Florida Gulf Coast University was ahead of KSU by 2 points in the Southeastern Collegiate Roller Hockey League. This year they have proved to by KSU’s divisional foe.
The KSU Roller Hockey team has split with Florida Gulf Coast University. It has. won two and lost two. Both of KSU’s wins came in overtime. This not only gave KSU two points for the win, but in overtime the loser also gets a point. Florida Gulf Coast University beat Kennesaw in regular play, meaning KSU did not earn any points.
“We just better ourselves by playing with each other. We have all played roller hockey before, but we have a great team chemistry,” said co-captain Nick Roddy.
This year, the team lost last year’s captain Jordan Barnard to graduation. Barnard came back to help the team in any way he can as an assistant coach. Roddy said most of the players look up to Barnard.
The team practices Mondays and Wednesday at an outdoor rink in Forsyth County. When asked why the team doesn’t practice at the Ice Forum in Kennesaw, Roddy said it is an ice hockey only rink.
“What makes it different than ice hockey is it’s more of a sprint and endurance combination,” said Sweeney. “Where in ice [hockey] it’s a full out sprint for 45 seconds and then a shift change.”
The team has 13 men on the roster, and most of the team is made up of freshman and sophomores. The team is composed of eight members who are forwards, three who are on defense, and the remaining two are goalies. During the game, five players are on the rink at time including the goalie. Two are on defense and two are forwards.
“On paper I am the leader, but we have plenty of players who will step up in big moments and have key words or plays to benefit the team,” said Sweeney.
Sweeney leads the team in scoring with 55 points. Roddy is the second lead scorer with 28 points.
“Our strong base is a huge part of our ability to succeed and continue to win games, and I’m hoping it only continues from this point on,” said Sweeney.
The team hopes that it will have continued success beyond just the 2015-16 season.