Temple’s club roller hockey team defeated perennial powerhouse Neumann University, 4-2.
The few parents, close friends and girlfriends aware of Temple’s roller hockey team witnessed a team searching for support score a 4-2 upset victory against perennial powerhouse Neumann University Sunday.
“I thought, ‘There’s no such thing as college roller hockey,’” senior president Mike Peterson said before he joined the team his sophomore year. “This isn’t a well-known sport. I laughed at first when I heard there was an actual league from my friend’s little brother. And that’s the problem. There are so many good players at Temple, but we have a hard time getting our name out there. A lot of people have the same reaction as me.”
The club team, which was founded in 2001, is completely student-run, from fundraising to reserving practice space. The players support both A and B teams, which carry a combined 27 players on the roster.
The Owls faced a Neumann team Sunday that won a Division II National Championship in 2006 and made it to the finals in 2003, 2004 and 2005. With its first victory against Neumann in team history, Temple claimed its third win in the four games it played during the weekend. Teams play multiple regular-season games then to save students time and travel. Four or five games are played throughout four weekends in a semester.
“This was a team we needed to beat,” senior captain Victor Novelli said. “We know where we stand now. West Chester lost yesterday, and these are two of the best teams in the country. This gives us a good idea of where we match-up with the competition.”
Temple jumped out to an early lead with three goals in the first period. By the third period, Neumann had manufactured two late goals to close the gap. But then, sophomore Ben Hovne, whom the team called up from the B squad just for this game, made it 4-2 and put a stop to Neumann’s momentum.
“[Neumann] just had way too many penalties, and our goalie played great. It was just a big team effort,” Novelli said.
The team has qualified for nationals once since its inception. The March Madness-style competition takes place in four divisions and features champions from seven regional conferences, as well as teams that meet certain criteria to decide the national champion.
But even if the team makes it back to nationals, players said support is still hard to come by.
Sophomore treasurer and goalie John Mehler said players are trying to “reach out to a fan base” by starting a Facebook page, which had more than 80 members its first week. The team also posts fliers around campus, supports a Web site in addition to the university’s club-team Web site and would like to see all club teams unite to set up tables along the Bell Tower or Liacouras Walk to try to stir interest. For right now, word of mouth seems to be the best way to attract fans and players.
“Everybody figures a college is going to have an ice hockey team, a soccer team, a football team, et cetera,” co-head coach and Temple graduate Jamie Babcock said. “But with roller hockey, people just play for fun and don’t think of it as a serious sport and realize how involved and widespread it is, and that should change.”
Tom Rowan Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.