While Temple football is falling apart, it’s refreshing to know Temple’s ice hockey club has managed to bring home a title, despite going virtually unnoticed on campus.
Temple is a member of the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference, a league belonging to the American Collegiate Hockey Association in which the club is the defending champions. Temple competes as a club, not in the NCAA.
After a short hiatus in the early 1990s after using ineligible players, Temple’s ice hockey program resurfaced in 1998. The ACHA currently houses 96 ice hockey programs, compared to 58 in NCAA Division I.
The players want to make students and area hockey fans aware of the program. The team is currently 2-3-1 overall and 1-0-1 in conference play. Temple is scheduled to play Nov. 1 at Saint Joseph’s and Nov. 2 against the College of New Jersey at the Flyers Skate Zone. Both games start at 4 p.m.
“If you want to catch college hockey in the city,” senior defenseman Craig Ungaro said, “this is the best place to find it.”
Most schools register as a club because NCAA requirements are too rigorous and expensive for many schools to appease. Temple’s club expenditures are more than $30, 000 a season, with 45 percent coming from Recreation Services. Each player ponies up roughly $835 in dues.
For a school to be classified as a member of the NCAA, they are required to have both a women’s and a men’s team and hold its games in an arena that seats approximately 5,000 to 10,000 people. Those attendance numbers, and an arena of that size, can lead to a high facility maintenance cost. Temple’s home ice is the Flyers Skate Zone in Northeast Philadelphia, where they rent the rink at $300 an hour. The club plays two games nearly every weekend.
Temple’s ice hockey club is run entirely by the players; they have to organize all transportation to and from games and practices and review game footage during the week. The Owls also play some Divsion I-A programs, such as Villanova and Penn.
Several Philadelphia-area schools, including Saint Joseph’s, LaSalle, Lafayette, Millersville, Bucknell, the College of New Jersey and Franklin & Marshall, all play in the DVCHC.
Temple’s roster consists of 23 players, six of whom are returning from last season. Mike Hufford, a former player who graduated last year, is the coach. He has a four-man coaching staff, comprised of other former Owls players.
Practices began during the first week in September with off-ice conditioning, followed by on-ice training during the next couple of weeks until the season begins. The season started in mid-October with a 28-game schedule that stretches through February. The top five teams in the conference make the playoffs. The postseason features a win and advance format, with the championship extending to a best-of-three series.
In the recent past, Lafayette’s supremacy had gone unchecked. Last year however, a talented Owls squad, which lost only one game, dethroned the three-time champs. With its first championship, Temple became known around Philadelphia for its exciting play.
“We’ve had people come to our championship series and afterwards write us letters saying ‘I’ve had season tickets to the Flyers for years and that was the best hockey I’ve ever watched,'” Ungaro said.
Unlike other major sports at Temple, the players are responsible for all promotion and recruitment of new talent. Previously all recruitment was done through word of mouth. Players also take money out of their own pockets to play the coolest sport on ice.
“It’s difficult practicing five days a week, playing twice on the weekend, and going to school five days a week,” sophomore defenseman Josh Hannan said. “But I love it, and I don’t mind the work.”
The team now has a student website that is updated regularly, https://astro.temple.edu/~jroberts/, and a league Web site too, www.ACHAhockey.org. Students who are interested in trying out or watching games can get additional information through the Temple website.
David Cargin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.