In the 2005-2006 season, the club ice hockey team achieved something that no other Lions team had done in the program’s 35-year history – the team made it to the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference championship series.
In the third game of a best-of-three series, the Lions suffered a heartbreaking 8-7 loss. In the process of making it to the championship, the Lions developed a growing fan base that is still growing. Approximately 300 people were in attendance at the off-campus series finale.
It was an exciting turn of events for a team that may be the most demanding club sport on campus. Since starting in August, the team has one to three games a weekend and practices twice a week from 11:15 p.m. to 12:45 a.m. With expenses eclipsing $900 a head, a player is not even guaranteed to dress for a single game due to league limits.
“I think it’s perfect,” senior forward Mark Fidanza said. “It’s not every day, but it is much more demanding. It’s something you need to have commitment for and be unbelievably dedicated.”
After placing second in the league last season, it is easy to see why players are still eager to play despite the burden on the wallet.
The Lions had eight all-star selections last season, while the most any other team had was five.
The College also had the league MVP in sophomore defenseman Alex Gorden. According to Fidanza, Gorden carried the team on multiple occasions, single-handedly lifting the team to victories. The Lions also have senior forward Ryan Potosky, who leads the team in goals and points along with tough sophomore defenseman Eric Castellazzo. Also, Fidanza picked up the League Sportsmanship Award.
After six players graduated last season, the Lions were slightly nervous, but they are excited to welcome nine rookies, including three goalies, to the roster this year. The Lions are also confident about what this year has to offer.
“It would be a huge disappointment if we did not win the championship (this year). We have a great team and great coaches,” Fidanza said. “This is definitely the most fun I have had in college.”
With newly-named head coach Jeff Pelus from Temple University at the helm, the College looks to build on last year’s successful season. The Lions open their season against the Owls at Temple on Sept. 16.
For up-to-date information on the Lions, including directions and schedules, visit www.tcnj.edu/~icehock.