WILMINGTON — One thing you don’t hear much about across the local sports scene is the fact ice hockey has a strong base of athletes competing from the youth level through college.
Port City Daily’s Joe Cats laced up the skates for the first time since he was nine-years old on Tuesday night and hit the ice for his latest Facebook LIVE broadcast. He joined The University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s club hockey team for practice at the Ice House located off Market Street in Ogden.
“Dub Hockey” is now in its 11th season and the excitement surrounding this independently funded program continues to grow, with hundreds of fans attending games during the course of the season. The Ice Hawks roster has grown from 13 players in its first year of existence to a full 26-man roster featuring players from all across the Eastern United States.
The club sport has been largely paid for by the players themselves, as dues have increased from $800 during the first season to more than $1,500 for the current season, with an overall budget of nearly $65,000.
During the course of Tuesday’s practice, Cats caught up with UNCW Head Coach Brian Hapeman and Team Captain, Tyler Evangelous, son of Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous. They took viewers through the ins and outs of the program, a typical practice and the parameters of the league.
“Dub Hockey” was formed by Colin Rossi, Ian Aldrich, Pete Schwarz and Blake Cute in October 2004.
The team competes in the Colonial Division of the Blue Ridge Hockey Conference (BRHC) against Loyola (MD), University of North Carolina- Charlotte, Christopher Newport University, University of Richmond, George Mason University, James Madison University, East Carolina University and Liberty.
— Joe Catenacci (@JoeCats19) November 16, 2016
The Colonial Division was created several years ago for the elite club hockey teams in the BRHC to further develop, with the goal of reaching the American Collage Hockey Association (ACHA) National Tournament. The Ice Hawks earned its first-ever trip to the ACHA Division 3 National Tournament in Pelham, Alabama two seasons ago.
The team has increased its schedule from 10 games during the first season to a 25 to 30 competitive-game schedule, which includes two in-season tournaments and end of year championships.