Hockey skates its way onto campus

Phat Nguyen, News Editor

The phrase to break a leg means wish someone good luck.

Junior psychology major Hayden Lerner got the most of this well known idiom when he literally broke his leg.

That bit of luck was exactly what the Wilkes Hockey club needed.

A broken leg forced Lerner to take a medical leave of absence, allowing him to focus all his attention on starting up the Wilkes Hockey club last fall.

Lerner and a friend pitched their idea to student government who voted in favor of the formation of the club.

The next step was to find a way to pay for uniforms. Lerner’s luck came through once again after hundreds of emails between companies like Warrior, Timberline and National Business, Warrior decided to sponsor the Colonel club.

“They reluctantly gave us jerseys which really saved us a lot of money,” junior psychology major Ryan Maloney said.

As the team, the biggest hurdle has been finances. They wanted to join a Men’s B league on Coal Street that costs $2400. Also every player on the team would need to pay the $40 registration with USA hockey.

They presented to SG that they needed $1700 – $900 for the league, $300 to refill their account and $500 for the community service that they did as a club.

The club has shown much activity fulfilling their service hours this semester by making Nylon with the Chemistry club for Women Empowered through Science and through a dual team Relay for Life with the MMA club.

Since gathering the sufficient funds, the next biggest hurdle was interest, Lerner said. With limited roster, it would be difficult to consistently field a team.

“We only had seven or eight guys initially, and I was really worried that we didn’t have enough for a team,” Lerner said.

But the team saw progress quickly as time went by.

“Even though we only had seven or eight guys responding to emails initially, as word spread and got out, the team grew,” Maloney said.

By the time the first league game rolled around, the team grew to twenty members ranging from freshman to senior and including Dr. Gregory Peters, an assistant professor of Chemistry. Peters was recruited through multiple students in the club.

“Personally, I’m friends with him,” Maloney said. “Our club secretary Jess Khalil is also very good friends with him.”

Peters played competitive hockey in graduate school at Wyoming nearly 18 years ago.

“The last time he played hockey competitively was before some of our freshmen were born,” Lerner said.

“He’s not a bad, but some of his equipment would’ve looked bad on Gretsky though.” Maloney joked after noticing Peters old gloves.

Junior criminology major Epes Harris said he’s seen a lot of passion from Peters.

“He has real fire in his eyes,” the assistant captain said. “He even slammed his helmet on the bench one time.”

Peters has adjusted to the camaraderie of the students by insisting for them to call him by his first name.

“Listen this isn’t a classroom. Call me Greg,” Peters said.

The Coal Street men’s league has nine games plus two playoff games. Three other teams 3 other teams. Harris believes the competition is top notch.

“We’re playing against pros, former pros, semi pros and junior hockey players- the level before you go pro – and NCAA guys,” Harris said. “Dennis Bonvie was on defense for the last team.”

Bonvie was a former member of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

Another problem the club has that it’s limited to hold regular practice since paying for ice is expensive.

“That’s the biggest reason why I never played when I was growing up. The league itself is $2000 to set up,” Maloney said.

They are limited to open hockey at UCOM.

Coaching and managing the team is another problem. Team captain Maloney balances out the team while he lets Lerner manage lineups.

“He’s a dictator,” Maloney said with a smile. “Hayden did a lot for the club. He’s been putting out the lines. Sometimes not everyone agrees with him, but we’ll have talk before the games.”

The goalie situation is a mess, Maloney said.

“Right now we have three goalies, that’s unheard of, he said. “We’re giving them all a period each because there’s nothing we really can do.”

Some of the players are still trying to understand the game.

“It’s tough. Some kids are trying to score and don’t even have a puck,” Lerner said.

The captains said there are only two true defensemen on the team with 15 skaters who don’t want to play defense. This forces them to put a few of their best forwards as defensemen because no one wants to play defense.

There is also a wide range in skill level, Harris said.

“The skill level ranges from 15 years experience to someone who says, ‘hey this is my fifth game,’” Harris said. “So picking lines is tough. At the same time, we are playing in the very tough league.”

However there has been many signs of progress, Maloney said.

“We lost the first game 20-8, but we were playing against a kid named Marty, who tried out for the baby Pen’s,” he said. “We’re just a bunch of college kids who are trying to have fun. He made us look silly to say the least.”

“I love this game. I’ve played football for 15 years of my life, but there’s nothing like stepping on the ice for the first time,” Maloney said. “Being on there when someone scores their first goal of the season, it’s a special feeling.”

There have been many close calls where the game was in reach for the Colonels, but due to sloppy play, they have been unable to convert the until last week when they won their first game ever.

But even with losses, the team said the experience was still unbeatable, Maloney said.

“To play with some of the guys who I’ve grown up with, it was still a lot of fun to actually get on the ice and play some hockey.”

The club also draws in a strong fan section which includes roughly 30 people a game. Maloney claims that half those people are probably his family members

The hockey club team has long term goals  to one day become a D-III athletic team.