Club hockey works to increase fanbase

Fifth-year+forward+Jonathon+Sharp+readies+for+a+face-off+in+a+game+against+Kennesaw+State+University.+Tulane+hockey+participated+in+nine+games+last+year+and+finished+with+a+4-5+record.
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Club hockey works to increase fanbase

Fifth-year forward Jonathon Sharp readies for a face-off in a game against Kennesaw State University. Tulane hockey participated in nine games last year and finished with a 4-5 record.

Fifth-year forward Jonathon Sharp readies for a face-off in a game against Kennesaw State University. Tulane hockey participated in nine games last year and finished with a 4-5 record.

Fifth-year forward Jonathon Sharp readies for a face-off in a game against Kennesaw State University. Tulane hockey participated in nine games last year and finished with a 4-5 record.

Fifth-year forward Jonathon Sharp readies for a face-off in a game against Kennesaw State University. Tulane hockey participated in nine games last year and finished with a 4-5 record.

Susan Fanelli, Sports Editor [email protected]

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Beyond chipped teeth and bruised shins, hockey is a sport about camaraderie. At Tulane, hockey is skating into place as one of the school’s most popular club sports.

Tulane hockey is an American Collegiate Hockey Association Division III team and plays local college teams throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Almost entirely self-run, the team practices once a week at Leo’s Ice Palace in Baton Rouge. This year, it will play 11 games and seeks to improve on last year’s 4-5 record.

Four years ago, the Tulane hockey team was in dire straits. The team had very few players and could not afford to travel to distant locations like Florida to play in tournaments. Low attendance earned the team a one-year suspension in 2012.

For senior and team captain Jacob Goldstein, who was a freshman after the team’s suspension, revitalizing the team was like having to start from scratch.

“The league suspended us, so the year before we came, there was no team,” Goldstein said. “Our freshman year was our first year back in the league, so we were just trying to feel it out, getting to know everything in the league. Going from a first-year team in the league to where we are now is pretty cool to see.”

Now, the team has players who, much like Tulane, come from across the country. The roster increased from 13 to 22 players in only three years. Freshman participation has been important to the team as it continues to make itself known within the Tulane community.

“We start with that group and then we have a couple other groups of seniors who we grew close with for four years,” senior goalie Jack Ring said. “And then, kind of slowly, you mesh your way in. It’s funny, seeing all the freshmen learn how they can interact with the team.”

In spite of the team’s recent resurgence, Tulane hockey still struggles to find a fan base within the Tulane community. As a result of its games taking place so far out of the city, attendance only comes in the forms of big tournaments and special occasions and initial excitement wanes quickly.

“As long as there’s no rink in New Orleans, the sport’s not going to grow,” club President and sophomore forward Harris Goldstein, said. “If there was a rink, you could get people that were interested, but if no one’s going to drive all the way out to Baton Rouge … it’s difficult.”

The team is still growing, however, and new Association of Club Sports rules that require additional fundraising increase the chances of earning money and publicity. A larger budget and expanded team are paving the way for Tulane hockey in the not-so-distant future.

“More than hockey, it’s this really close-knit group of guys that’s gotten better over the years,” Goldstein said. “We keep trying to make it better and better.”